The church hall was filled with various colourful headgears representing various families.
The nine brides stood by their grooms; an expectant look on their faces. Each bride and groom had a chief bridesmaid and a best man standing behind them. The minister looked at them. “This is to the grooms. Please face your bride and repeat after me. I…..”
“I…..” The grooms chorused.
“Mention your names.” The minister continued. “Do take you, please mention your bride’s name – to be my lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, from this day forward, till death do us part and according to God’s law. This I solemnly vow.” The grooms repeated.
The church gave a round of applause as the minister repeated the same vows to the brides.
The tenth bride put her hands under her veil and dabbed her eyes incessantly. She was the only bride still facing the minister while the others faced their grooms. Even though the air-conditioner was blowing at full blast, her palms were wet with sweat. She moved the bouquet of flowers in her hands from the right to the left and turned to look at the door every minute. Her chief bridesmaid fanned her vigorously when she noticed the beads of sweat on her head. She heard only half of what the minister said. Her mind was in turmoil. She was barely listening when she noticed that the grooms were about unveiling their brides. Tears gathered in her eyes and she bit her lip to stop them from spilling.
Two of the grooms’ friends stood outside the church gate while another stood just outside the church hall. The men at the gate fidgeted as they strained their necks and scrutinized every motor bike that passed by. Where could he be? They asked each other every minute. There were no mobile phones and they had no idea where or how to look for him. If they decided to make the journey to his house, they were sure not to meet him at home. It was definite he would be on his way but what could have taken him so long to get to the church when he knew what time the church service was meant to start. Their friend who stood outside the hall monitored the church proceedings. He gasped and put his hand on his head. The minister had declared the newest couples and was about to show them to the whole church.
Just then, the groom ran into the church hall with his best man in tow. He hurriedly unveiled his wife and put the ring on her finger. The minister smiled as he asked the ten couples to face the church and declared them the newest couples in town.
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