The Wedding

It wasn’t a real bar. It was a makeshift place, a crowded room in the back of someone’s house. Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” played softly in the background, softly because they didn’t want to attract attention, though in Nigeria you could attract attention for many reasons and being a lesbian was one of them. Oby was there with her friend, Crystal, who was wearing a mini-dress and platform shoes. The house’s owner, Margaret, met them at the door. Margaret was a proud lesbian and had been hosting these parties for five years. To attend, you had to be vetted. You had to know someone who knew her directly, and you had to be brought there by that person. 

“Long time no see,” Margaret said, pulling Crystal into a bear hug. Margaret was an older woman, possibly in her fifties. She had short graying hair, and she was wearing a men’s caftan. 

“This is the friend I told you about,” Crystal said, introducing Oby though she didn’t have to. Oby and Margaret were now friends on Facebook and had chatted briefly. 

“Welcome,” Margaret said with her head sideways. “Please make yourself comfortable.”

Crystal was soon making the rounds, kissing women on the lips, pulling them into hugs.

“Nne, what’s up,” she said to woman after woman. She introduced Oby as one of her closest friends. “She’s a studious girl, a medical doctor,” Crystal said, looking at Oby with her half smile. “But I’ve managed to drag her out of the house tonight.”

The women came and stood around Oby. One woman, wearing baggy jeans and a backwards cap, asked her what she wanted to drink. 

“Rum and Coke,” Oby said without thinking. 

The woman laughed, showing off bright teeth. Over their heads, a blue light flickered. Oby didn’t know what to do with her hands. She wondered if Crystal would be upset if she left.

Oby had been in relative isolation for six months, going to work and going home. After six months of trying, and failing, to work her way out of a depression, she was suddenly feeling the overwhelming weight of loneliness. When Crystal asked her if she finally wanted to go to a gay bar, it had taken Oby only a few seconds to decide.

Now, Oby smiled at the women around her.

“Welcome,” a tall woman wearing a leopard print dress said. “You’re very pretty. And a doctor too. Abeg, do you like femmes?”

The women laughed. 

“Biko, leave this one for me,” a woman with three piercings in her earlobes said.

“So whereabouts do you live?” a second woman asked. She had a buzzed haircut and a nose ring. 

“Independence Layout,” Oby said.

“Posh,” the women said.

“I live with my parents o,” Oby said.

The baggy-pants woman returned with a glass of rum and Coke. Oby took it gratefully. The alcohol was soon loosening her up, and she was starting to relax.

She chatted with the women for many minutes, about work, family. They watched her with intrigue, drinking her in. The women peppered Oby with questions and she answered them like she would in an interview, giving responses that would only make her look good. 

Oby didn’t notice the stranger until the woman was right in front of her. The woman was wearing a white dress, and she was twirling. Yes, twirling. She pointed her toes and turned her neck, each time trying to meet Oby’s gaze, though Oby couldn’t see her eyes in the dimness. When she finally stopped dancing, the woman did a little curtsy. Oby was laughing, taken by this woman’s unconventional approach to flirting. This woman was now watching her, coming closer and closer without self-consciousness. Usually, Oby’s beauty intimidated people. Straight women were cautious around her. Other lesbians didn’t know what to do with her. But here, she didn’t feel the fight-or-flight response that colored so many of her social interactions.

The woman in the white dress was soon inches away from Oby’s face, her mouth to Oby’s right ear. 

“You’re the sexiest person in this room,” she said. 

The women around them hooted. 

“Nnenne, you’ll kill us with your foolishness!” they shouted. 

A tingle of excitement floated up Oby’s spine. She liked the way this woman was suddenly holding her, not gently, but not forcefully either. 

“Nnenne the master seductress!” the women hooted.

“Nnenne the Casanova!”

Nnenne pulled Oby to the dance floor. She had a narrow face and bright eyes, dark red lipstick on full lips. Her hair was natural, combed and held in a thick bun.

“Are you a ballerina?” Oby asked.

“Trained for fifteen years,” Nnenne said. “Gave up because there’s no place in this world for an African ballerina.”

“Don’t say that,” Oby said.

“It’s true,” Nnenne said.

The two women danced for an hour. The room came alive, other women paired off. Over their heads, the lights continued to flicker, blue, yellow, blue, yellow. Several women lit cigarettes and the hovering smoke refracted the light, leaving the room in an otherworldly glow. As the third Whitney Houston song came to an end, Oby spotted, in the dark corner, two women glued together, one of the women’s faces thrown back in ecstasy. 


When she got home hours later, Oby threw her shoes into the flowerbeds and tiptoed up the stairs barefoot. Her parents had watched her brush her teeth and wish them good night. They had heard her close her door and turn off her lights. She was thirty, and yet here she was, sneaking out of her father’s house like a fifteen-year-old delinquent. 

Oby didn’t want anyone to know she was a lesbian. She was the daughter of an evangelical preacher, after all. On Sundays, her father bullied from the pulpit spirits and demons that made women want to kiss other women, men want to caress other men. Her father called such people sons and daughters of sin.

She couldn’t remember when the fervor began, only that it had seeped into her father like leaking oil. Everywhere he went, he saw homosexual demons, goblins, spirits. “We must cast them out,” he said almost every Sunday now. “We must let them know they are not welcome in Africa.”

The next morning, on her way to the teaching hospital where she was a pediatrician, Oby’s phone rang. Nnenne called her and then called her again as she got off work. 

“I want to see you,” Nnenne said.

“You are persistent,” Oby said.

“It’s my middle name,” Nnenne said, giggling.

Oby and Nnenne met at The Native Pot on Bisalla Road that evening, and sat facing each other. Nnenne was wearing the same deep red lipstick she had worn at Margaret’s. There were beads of sweat against her forehead. It was February, not yet rainy season, and the weather was hot but not unbearable. Oby was nervous, because this was her first date with a woman in almost three years. 

As they took their seats, Nnenne took Oby’s hand. Oby glanced around the restaurant.

“Oh, don’t be a wuss,” Nnenne said. “I didn’t take you for a scaredy cat.”

Oby pulled her hand away.

“We’re not in the abroad o,” Oby said to Nnenne, referring to the years Nnenne had spent at university in California. 

“A man punched me in the face after watching me kiss a woman on a porch step,” Nnenne said. “And this was in San Francisco.”

Nnenne didn’t say anything else for many minutes. Oby began to blabber on, about work, about how doctors across the country were talking of going on strike over unpaid wages for the second time that year. When she realized that Nnenne wasn’t listening, that Nnenne was looking over her shoulder, Oby stopped talking. 

They ordered their meals and ate in uncomfortable silence. Nnenne watched Oby intently, smiling the whole time.

“You’ve failed my test,” Nnenne said.

“Oh really?” Oby said.

“I like to know when someone is uncomfortable with silence,” Nnenne said. “And you are.”

Oby shrugged.

“Abeg, who likes silence?” Oby said.

“Did you grow up in a big house with many siblings, brothers and sisters running up and down and everywhere?” 

“Yes,” Oby said.

“You grew up around noise,” Nnenne said. “That’s why you can’t stand the quiet.”

“Okay, Mrs. Philosopher,” Oby laughed. She liked the way Nnenne smiled, wistfully, with her mouth turned up on one side.


Her mother, Ezinne, was seated on the sofa when Oby returned home from her date. The tv was on, Africa Magic, and when she had showered and eaten, Oby joined her mother on the sofa. Oby wondered if her mother could smell the disobedience on her. 

When Pascal, her father, returned home an hour later, he marched upstairs to “cleanse himself of the filth of an ungodly world.” Oby could hear him stomping around; her father had never known how to be quiet. He came downstairs minutes later, wearing a fresh singlet and a wrapa around his waist. He sat at the dining table and dug into his meal.

After dinner, Pascal cleared his throat several times. Oby and Ezinne turned off the tv and hurried upstairs for their headscarves. They returned to the living room with their battered, battle-worn Bibles. They took their positions around the living room, giving each other space to do the needful.

The first time Oby heard her father speak in tongues, she was five years old, and she was so frightened that she wet herself. His eyes were rolling in his head, he was spitting and blubbering, his words jumbled, his voice a screech. Now, Oby was so used to it that it was a clock in her head. When she heard her father speaking in tongues, she knew it was time to get out of bed in the morning, time to prepare herself for sleep at night. Other times, it was more unpredictable. Pascal would suddenly become possessed by the spirit and fall into a trance, start to convulse in the hallway, on the toilet seat.

Oby often wondered what had drawn her parents to each other. It could have never been the lightning strike of love, because her mother did everything out of exhausted duty. It was clear to everyone how deeply unhappy Ezinne was, though such things as women’s happiness were seldom taken into consideration, especially not among serious people. But Ezinne was beyond misery. She had raised six children in the church, a church she had always been ambivalent about. Ever since she was a girl, Oby understood something she could never really articulate. She understood it in her mother’s bored expression behind the pulpit every Sunday, her mother’s hesitation to host the church ladies, to organize the yearly bazaar, to drive the bus headed to the baptismal lake. Her mother had always played the part of pastor’s wife to satisfaction, but now that Oby was older, Oby knew, though she would never articulate it, that her mother didn’t believe in God.

It was this secret knowing, this hidden realization, that encouraged Oby to reach for Adanna’s skirt that evening in the school garden. They were sixteen, holding watering cans over growths of hibiscus flowers, trying not to give in to the pulse that had vibrated between them ever since they were paired together as lab partners in their agricultural science class. Oby had not paid much attention to Adanna, not until Adanna began touching her, a slight brush of the hand here, a small caress there. Until then, Oby had felt alone in her understanding of her wants—to be held and folded into a soft body, to touch and be touched by a woman’s hand—and at first she chalked up Adanna’s attentions to aggressive friendliness. But when Adanna began to pair those skin-on-skin moments with a look of desperation, Oby knew that she had been mistaken. 

In the school garden, the flowers were in bloom. The sweet nectar attracted bees of all sizes, and in the dimming light, the air was abuzz with activity. The girls continued to water the plants, long past what was needed. They were killing time, they both knew, waiting for the sun to completely set. 

When it finally did, Adanna put down her watering can. She gathered the weeds and leaves she had trimmed and dumped them in the compost bin. She marched toward the shed without looking back. 

In the shed, Oby was so nervous that she bit Adanna’s tongue without meaning to. Adanna gave out a sharp breath, touched her tongue with her fingertips. Her eyes were wide, her tongue pink and moist. 

“It’s not bleeding,” Oby said, feeling foolish. She was reaching for Adanna’s skirt, nevertheless, pulling apart each button until Adanna was standing skirtless, her body covered in darkness. She was kissing Adanna’s neck, pulling her hair.

“Don’t stop,” Adanna said. “Please don’t stop.”


Pascal came down the stairs and turned off the television. He brought his hands to his hips and surveyed the women of his household.

“Every day in front of this idiot box,” he said. “Every day listening to godless fools yamming about nonsense.”

“What is it?” Ezinne said.

A deacon at the church had come by the house that afternoon with a picture of a young man who saw Oby’s photo on Facebook and wanted to marry her. 

“He’s really interested in you,” Pascal said, his mouth wide in a foolish grin. “And guess what? He lives abroad. In New York. Imagine that.”

Pascal pulled up the young engineer’s photo on Facebook and passed it around to the women. Oby was surprised to find that the man was handsome, that he had bright eyes and a fine mouth. The men that were interested in her were often ancient, crazed men. But this man looked young enough to be her age. His profile was full of fine things, a Mercedes Benz he showed off in three albums, trips to Las Vegas and Bali and Tulum. 

“He suits you,” Oby wanted to tell her father. “Vain and silly.”

“Talk to him,” Pascal said. “Get to know him.”

In bed hours later, Oby surfed the web in the darkness. She scrolled through Facebook, Instagram. Her WhatsApp messages dinged. She saw countless wedding photos, igbankwu videos in villages from Mbaise to Nsukka. She saw photos of her secondary school friends with fat babies on their laps, smiling husbands at their sides. Even Adanna was now married with three children.

At midnight, Ezinne came into the room and sat at the edge of Oby’s bed. Even in the dimness, Oby could see her mother’s worry.

“A handsome man in New York wants to marry you,” Ezinne said to Oby. 

Oby sat up.

“Maybe this isn’t the worst thing in the world?” Ezinne said. “You should have bigger ambitions beyond marrying some fool. But this boy. He doesn’t seem bad.”

Oby got out of bed and looked at her mother. She thought briefly of the afternoon years ago when she had been so distraught that she confessed the scene in the school garden to Ezinne. “I think I might be gay,” she told her mother in desperation. That afternoon, Ezinne laughed and laughed, turning to Oby with a look of complete incredulity.

“What are you saying?” Ezinne had said. 

Now, Ezinne got up and went to the open window, to the sound of a dog barking.

“Are you going there again today?” she said to the still wind. Then she turned in her daughter’s direction. 

“Maybe,” Oby said. 

“Don’t be cagey with me,” Ezinne said. 

“Yes,” Oby told her mother. Then she was up and getting dressed.

“I don’t understand it,” Ezinne said sadly. “But I’m trying. You should know I’m trying.” 


Oby’s father traveled often, to proselytize to people in far-flung cities across the continent. His church as well as his travels were heavily funded by an American coalition in Kansas, some organization, God’s Word International, that had turned its eyes on the unsaved souls of subsaharan Africa. 

That week, her father flew to Uganda, to a massive congregation of evangelical preachers, and her mother did not pray, did not look at her Bible, not even once. 

Oby and Ezinne never spoke about it, but there was an ecstatic relief, a wonderful sense of freedom that enveloped them whenever Pascal went on one of his trips. They woke late and slept late. They ate and watched Africa Magic without interruption. Most importantly, they didn’t feel compelled to shout and stomp their feet and roll their necks, possessed by the forces of the divine. 

“You know,” Ezinne said days later as they ate popcorn in front of the idiot box. “Sometimes, I wish he wouldn’t come back.”

Oby looked at her mother, at the small grin on Ezinne’s face.

“Is it evil?” Oby said, laughing. “That sometimes I pray his plane never lands?”


Days later, Ezinne was watching television when Oby came home from Margaret’s.

“Good evening, Ma,” Oby said to her mother.

A shadow moved around in the dining room.

“Where have you been?” her father called. Oby startled. He wasn’t supposed to be home for a few more days. 

He appeared in the living room still in his collars.

“Do you know what time it is?” he said. 

Oby tried to get past him, but he stood in the hallway, blocking her path up the stairs.

“Is this how you behave when I’m gone?” he said. “Like some type of prostitute. On what planet do you think you can behave this way?”

Oby looked to Ezinne for support, but Ezinne shrugged, as if to say “looks like his plane landed after all.”


At the hospital the next day, Oby tried to concentrate on something other than her anger. There were babies everywhere, and often the mothers would ask her if she had children of her own. Once, Oby had imagined a loveless marriage, a life of unhappiness, if only it meant she could have children. But after that evening in the school garden with Adanna, she had disabused herself of the thought.

The subject of her singledom and childlessness was starting to wear on Oby. She was thirty, her father exclaimed every day now. Several church men were paraded in front of her every month. When she rejected them, her father raged and raged: “How long do you think you have before you’re an old, discarded maid?”

Now, her phone rang. It was Pascal.

“Dumkene is in town,” he said. “He’s visiting Nigeria. He’s serious about a wife and he wants to see you.”

Her father paused. Then he sighed.

“Give him a chance,” he said softly. “Just give him a chance.”

At home that evening, Ezinne was apologetic.

“I’m sorry about all of it,” Ezinne said.

“You should have accessed your options before marrying a preacher,” Oby said, an edge in her voice. 

Ezinne shook her head, bitterness and resentment written all over her face. “Preachers and politicians are the only people who can eat in this country,” she said.


For days, Oby scrolled through Dumkene’s social media pages. He had posted pictures of himself at bars in Lagos, in Owerri. Naija is too sweet, he captioned his photos on Instagram. Oby sent him a message. When will you be in Enugu? she wrote. She felt an ache in her chest. 


Dumkene was tall and broad shouldered. He spoke in a crisp American accent that both annoyed and intrigued Oby. When they arrived at the restaurant in GRA, he opened the door for her and then pulled out her chair.

He was surprisingly kind. He asked Oby about work, about the upcoming doctors’ strike. He asked her about her hobbies, her favorite color. And even though Oby tried, and tried, she couldn’t muster anything for him close to attraction. She had known this going in, had known this her whole life, but the pressure sometimes was so great, the fear so monumental, that she begged, willed herself to feel what she was supposed to feel.

In a lull in the conversation, Oby looked at Dumkene.

“So why are you still single?” she asked him.

He laughed, reached across the table, and took her hand. There was hunger in his eyes.

“I guess I haven’t met the right person,” he said. “You?”

Oby pulled her hand away.

“I don’t want to give you the wrong impression,” she said, taking a deep breath. “You should know that I’m gay.”

Dumkene blinked.

“Oh,” he said. 

“Yes,” Oby said.

“What’s that like here?” he said. 

“It’s my life.”


For weeks, she didn’t return to Margaret’s or respond to Nnenne’s phone calls. But on the fourth week, she realized she couldn’t continue to punish herself, to deny herself. She picked up her phone and called Nnenne.

They met at Margaret’s a few days later. Nnenne looked tired.

“I was surprised when you called me,” Nnenne said. The party had yet to begin, and there were only a few women in the small space, young women in the corner, their faces close together. 

Nnenne gave Oby a mock disapproving look. 

“We went on one good date, and then you ghosted,” she said. “I thought you had forgotten about me.”

“I’m sorry,” Oby said. “I get like this. Too much on my mind, and then I bury myself in isolation.”

Oby was feeling empty.

“This can’t be it,” she said suddenly, looking around the room. “This can’t be the sum of our lives.”

“What’s wrong with this?” Nnenne said.

“It’s not enough,” Oby said.

“It’s enough for me,” Nnenne said.

“I want more. I want it all,” Oby said.

She turned to Nnenne. Nnenne frowned.

“We are okay,” Nnenne said. “We really are.”

Oby changed the subject.

“When was the first time you slept with a woman?” she asked.

Nnenne thought about it.

“It was my first semester at Berkeley,” she said slowly. “A white girl, believe it or not. We dated for three years.”

“Did you hold her hand? Did you walk down the street like any couple? Did you kiss each other goodbye at the train station?”

“We hid it from everyone,” Nnenne said. “But one night in San Francisco, I walked her to a friend’s house. A man followed us. He must have been watching us, because as soon as we kissed each other goodbye, he marched up the steps and punched me in the face.”


Oby disappeared again for weeks. In those weeks, she kept thinking about sending Dumkene a Facebook message. 

Can we be friends? she wrote several times, deleting the message each time. What was it that she wanted? He had been kind to her, and for some reason, others’ kindness made her feel indebted, made her want to cling to them. Perhaps he would marry her, as he had suggested jokingly, get her out of this country, get her a green card, no strings attached. 

Oby felt something in the pit of her stomach, something she wanted to cut out and dispose of. 

When she went downstairs for dinner, her mother was watching the NTA evening news. Women with fake American accents stumbled over their words.

“Food’s on the table,” Ezinne said. 

Oby went to the dining table and returned to the living room with her plate of jollof rice. Her father had flown to Ghana that morning, to baptize an entire village of three hundred people. 

Ezinne said nothing for many minutes. Then she cleared her throat.

“Have you spoken to Nnenne?” Ezinne asked.

Oby froze.

“How do you know her?” Oby said.

“Relax,” her mother said. “She came by the other day. Asked about you, said she was a friend.”

Oby said nothing.

“Do you like her?” Ezinne said. 

Oby looked away.

“If you like her, you should let her know.” Ezinne said after many minutes of tense silence. 

Oby felt suddenly uncomfortable. Her mother cleared her throat.

“Don’t settle,” Ezinne said. “Love is the greatest gift. The greatest gift.”


When she told her father that she wasn’t interested in Dumkene, he was upset for days.

“A good, suitable Igbo man,” he said. “What is wrong with you?”

“I didn’t like him,” Oby said, trying to hide her fear as her father took a menacing step toward her. 

“You want to be a spinster your whole life?” he said. “You want to live under my roof childless and unwed for eternity? I won’t allow it!”

Her father began to pace.

“I’ve tried everything,” Pascal said. “Lord knows how much I’ve prayed.” He was talking to himself. 

“Ngwa, kneel,” he said to Oby.


“Kneel!” her father said.

“Father God,” he began, spittle flying from his mouth.

“Father God,” he said again, placing his hand on his daughter’s head. “There’s an evil spirit in my daughter. The kind of spirit that makes women lie and cheat and fornicate. The kind of spirit that blocks their hearts from the anointing of good men. Father, I beg you.”

Pascal shook Oby violently as he prayed, screaming until she was sobbing.

“Dad, stop,” she cried.

Ezinne came running down the stairs, woken from sleep.

“What’s going on?” Ezinne called. “Pascal, what’s the matter?”

When Ezinne reached for Pascal, he shrugged her off. He was still shaking Oby, like he wanted to snap her in half.

“Pascal, it’s okay,” Ezinne said.

Pascal turned to Ezinne, pointed a finger in her face.

“It’s you,” he said. “You encourage her. You want her to be a spinster. But I want you both to know that I’m just the man for you.”


Oby tiptoed down the dark stairs the next night and met Nnenne at a point-and-kill near the old zoo. The popular restaurant was packed with people. Fresh fish swam in tanks. The two women selected two fat catfish and watched as the chef butchered and fried each one. 

When they sat down, Mayorkun’s “Holy Father” was blasting over their heads. 

“This is getting to be too much,” Oby said to Nnenne tearfully. “I can’t do it anymore.”

Nnenne took her hand and this time Oby didn’t care. 

“I’m sorry,” Nnenne said. “I’m sorry you’re having such a rough time.” 

“Did you hear the news?” Oby said, wiping her eyes. “Someone has been ratting us out. A men’s party was raided last weekend, men dragged out of a home and beaten, robbed.”

They said little afterwards, subdued, avoiding what it was that they each wanted to say, that they were afraid.


At Margaret’s later that night, the party was raucous despite the news. Women shimmied and danced in tight dresses and high heels. A porno was playing on a small television and a woman was standing in front of it, her face inches from the screen.

A tall woman wearing a suit and tie even in the heat approached Oby. 

“New girl,” she said. “Why are you still here?”

Oby was confused by the question. The woman laughed. She introduced herself as Margaret’s partner, Oluchi.

“I mean why are you still in Nigeria? You’re a doctor. I don’t know a single doctor left in this country.”

For years, Oluchi had been trying to get out of Nigeria. She wanted to go to Canada and had considered going there and living without papers. 

“A close friend tried filing for asylum, and they denied her,” Oluchi said. “They told her she couldn’t prove she was in danger. Pfft.”

Oluchi shook her head.

“Man,” she said, chugging a vodka cranberry. “I want to get out of this place. I want to be married on a beach in California or in a castle in England. I want children. I want a life. Don’t you want a life?”

Oby thought about it. She thought about why she hadn’t tried to leave and realized she couldn’t imagine leaving. She took out her cell phone and contemplated once again messaging Dumkene. Burna Boy’s “On the Low” was playing softly. What will it be like? she wanted to ask. She returned her cellphone to her pocket without sending the message she had drafted.


When Crystal texted her at work the next day, Oby was weighing a newborn. The newborn’s mother was cooing to the baby, trying to get him to be still. Oby smiled at both baby and mother. She liked this aspect of being a pediatrician. Watching a child grow brought her immense joy. 

She didn’t look at Crystal’s message or answer the several calls until her shift was over at ten pm.

Margaret’s was raided last night, the message read. We are pooling together money for her.


According to Crystal, the party started later than usual. Margaret was making the rounds, offering drinks, compliments. When the men arrived, a dancer, Barbie, was doing a striptease. 

“It was pandemonium,” Crystal was saying on the phone as Oby made her way to her road-weary Rav4. “These idiots from I-don’t-know-where just descended on us with sticks and started beating us, smashing bottles, breaking windows. They called us lesbos and fornicators. They took all the money in the house. It was bad, man.”


When Oby arrived at Margaret’s days later, the house was eerily dark. She expected to find the aftermath of the raid, but Margaret had worked quickly with the money they had all pooled together to restock the bar and mend the shattered louvers. There was only candlelight and no music. Margaret and Oluchi wore matching agbadas. Margaret had a black eye, purple even in the dim light. 

The guests took their seats one after the other until every seat was taken. Nnenne was sitting next to Oby, and she squeezed Oby’s hand. Oby’s phone buzzed. It was a message from Dumkene. She looked at it. I can help you, he wrote. Oby closed her eyes.

“I always cry at weddings,” Nnenne whispered to Oby.

Oby nodded. 

“Me too,” she whispered back.

Crystal walked Margaret’s bride down the makeshift aisle. A woman in a tall hat officiated. 

“Friends,” the officiant began. “We are all here to celebrate. Not to cry or groan about what has been done to us, but to share in a sweet moment of great joy. Throw stones, bring sticks, and we no fit die. We are just too sexy for their wahala.”

The officiant wiped her sweating forehead with a handkerchief.

“Margaret and Oluchi met as master’s students twenty years ago at the University of Jos. They have shared ups and they have shared downs. But nothing has deterred them, not even when their first house was razed to the ground ten years ago. They continue to rebuild. They are fighters. Like Power Rangers, abi?”

The crowd laughed.

“Anyway,” the officiant said. “Everyone says I talk too much, so I’ll keep this brief.”

The officiant reached for a ring that Crystal was holding. She handed it to Margaret. 

“Do you promise to love this woman for the next twenty years and beyond?” the officiant said. 

“I do.”

“And you, Oluchi? Do you promise to love this woman for the next twenty years and beyond?”

“I do.”

“Ngwa, make una kiss before area touts come break our heads finish.”

Margaret leaned in and kissed Oluchi, their bright white agbadas gleaming in the candlelight. The guests erupted in thunderous applause. Nnenne wiped happy tears from her eyes.

Outside, a storm was gathering on the horizon.


Kosiso Ugwueze’s short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Joyland, Gulf Coast, Subtropics, New England Review, and Best American Short Stories. She is the winner of a New England Review Award for Emerging Writers and the recipient of a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grant for feminist fiction. A recent graduate of the MFA program in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, she lives in Los Angeles.