The Epidemic (2)

By Katiso Thatho, Lesotho

“Stop, don’t go through with this bro!” are the very first words that escape my lips the moment I pick up the microphone. The crowd falls silent. I mean, they were quiet before but this time it’s just awkward. I maintain my silence for a few seconds as well just to keep them on their toes. I don’t even want to turn back and face my brother and his new bride because I fear I might laugh too hysterically at their facial expressions. After a satisfactory length of awkward silence, I continue with my speech.

“That is what I’ve been saying to my brother from the moment he told me he wants to marry Whatshername. Just kidding, I know who you are Lerato. This man has for as long as I’ve known him, been opposed to the idea of marriage and falling in love, but  here we are today, celebrating all the things he once spat on. At first I felt betrayed; I mean how could he fall in love when all along we had vowed never to fall into that trap? Up until a few seconds ago, I thought for sure that I’d get up here and talk him out of this wedding. But now that I’m here, looking at the  two of them seated side by side at that huge table and hogging all the good food, I realise that I’ve never seen my brother smile like this in a long time, if ever. I’ve seen women come and go in his life but never have I seen one make him as happy as Lerato has done, and trust me, a significant number of them have tried. I mean, I could list them all but I doubt we have this venue for that long. Just kidding, again. You probably can’t tell right now, but that man has carried a lot of pain in his life and in the darkest of times of our lives, he always made sure he smiled so I wouldn’t get scared. It is only fitting that he should at last find something that makes him happy as well. Lerato, he is a very lucky man to have you as that something in his life, and so are you for being with someone who would take a thousand arrows to his back and embrace you with a smile in spite of the excruciating pain. I’m not too sure about this love thing and how it works but i think if the both of you stay true to who you are then all will be well. It is truly a blessing to see you find joy after going so long without it brother; may you never let it go. Here here!”

The wedding party starts to applaud, some are even smiling for some reason. They raise their glasses and shout “Cheers!” in unison.

I don’t know what happened but I’ve somehow given a speech that actually put smiles on people’s faces. That’s the opposite of what I wanted! I slowly walk back to my seat, awkwardly smiling and nodding at everyone still staring up at me. All I can think in this moment is; the speech is done people, let me leave the stage in peace. I finally locate my seat, and now that I’m seated once again, I find myself wondering just who the hell that was. That guy holding the wine glass with my right hand and speaking through my lips. Surely it wasn’t me, it couldn’t be me. My aim was to talk my brother out of this thing but now I have old lady Malironts’o crying her eyes out instead. Is this what happens at weddings? You’re in there for no more than five minutes and suddenly become a starry eyed romantic like the rest of the sheep? No, not me, I refuse to become this person. As soon as I’ve consumed three more glasses of wine I’m leaving this place. Okay, make that four more glasses and that’s it. As I enjoy my wine and plot my escape, I see one of the bridesmaids approach me. Honestly speaking, she looks rather attractive despite being forced to wear a dress that looks like it was inspired by whipped cream, but then again I’ve had a lot to drink so maybe that has something to do with it, after all, even the brown suit looks really good right now. She sits beside me and for the life of me I can’t think of a single thing to say.

“That was a very nice speech you gave. For a second there I thought for sure that you were gonna ruin this wedding, but all’s well that ends well I guess.”

“Can I let you in on a little secret? I thought I was gonna ruin the wedding too, now I’m really bummed that I didn’t. It’s what the happy couple deserves for making you wear that monstrosity.”

She laughs. She actually laughs at what I’ve said. There’s something oddly satisfying about hearing the sound of her laughter. Suddenly I want to make her laugh a few more times, even though I’m not quite sure how I did it the first time. As time passes, the conversation just keeps going and the wine keeps flowing. Honestly, how much of it could they possibly have here? At some point we get up and hit the dance floor, and then my mind goes blank.

Next thing I know, I wake up in my bed and from the looks of the menacing light trespassing through my bedroom window just for the sake of terrorizing me, I can tell that it’s morning. The headache is unbearable and I remember very little of the night before. As I stretch my arms I notice eight numbers written on my arm and beneath them the name Rorisang. It must be the bridesmaid’s phone numbers. Amidst the headache and struggle to piece together what happened last night, I find myself actually considering making the call. I guess this is how far I’ve fallen; hooking up with a girl I met at a wedding. As I lay in my bed a thought sneaks into the back of my mind; this would be a very cheesy story to tell our kids someday.

Oh my God, has it really happened? One wedding and I think I’ve caught this stupid love bug that’s been going around. It’s like I’ve been saying all along, it’s a bloody epidemic. Someone call my doctor, this is not happening; not today, not ever. It just can’t, at least not to me. I rush to the bathroom while furiously attempting to rub the numbers off with my thumb, hoping to make them and anything else I may have felt for the woman who wrote them disappear. I don’t know why, but all my efforts seem to be in vain. What the hell did she use to write them anyway? I finally get to the bathroom and quickly head for the sink. I open the tap. The plan here is simple. Place hand under tap. Open tap. Get affected area wet and finally, wipe off with damp washcloth. It sounds like a simple plan, right? Any fool could do it, any fool but me apparently. I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror and begin to wonder – what exactly am I doing? I don’t really want to wipe these numbers off, but here I am doing everything in my power to make them and all my memories of her vanish. This is why I stay away from this new age virus they call love. It makes me do strange things; it scares me. Maybe I should call her, maybe I should not. No matter what I choose, one thing has now become painfully obvious. Despite my best efforts, even I’m not immune to this love bug that’s been going around. God, I swear it’s an epidemic!