Gyang Bere, Jos
For Miss Helen Weze, a nurse and Miss Judith Ayuba, a civil servant, Saturday, March 21, 2020, is a day that the two women, both brides-to-be, will never forget in a hurry. It was a day that both were scheduled to get wedded to their sweethearts, to see their dreams of publicly getting hooked to the men they loved, the men who had all the while filled their worlds with sweet dreams.
But alas, by a strange twist of fate, it was not to be. It was a day they were eagerly waiting for, with thumping hearts and subdued smiles, to say “I do”, as they exchange marital vows with their beaus before an equally eager and expectant crowd of relatives, friends and well wishers waiting to share in their joys and to cheer them on. But by an unbelievable turn of events that looked more like a dream than a reality, they watched their age-long wishes turn into a mirage in a way they never, ever could have imagined. Never has fate come dressed in such a mix-grill of joy and sadness in human history. Welcome to the never, never world of so-near-yet-so- far!
A tale of two sorrows
But while 29-year-old Helen’s world came tumbling with a swiftness that looks too out- of-this-world, when Mr. Samuel Yarling of Lamingo, Jos and her husband-to-be, suddenly took ill and died on the morning of their wedding day, leaving her and the two families involved, completely devastated and inconsolable, the story of 30-year-old Judith, who is yet to wake up from the dreamturned-reality, has a bizarre touch to it.
This is because Mr. Rufus Aplang, the man she expected to get wedded to, simply took her to the altar, after many years of dating and preparation, took one long look at her and told the officiating priest that he is not interested, that, in fact, he was never interested at any time of their relationship but only brought her there to disgrace her publicly. And, while the bride, the priest and congregation were trying to make some meaning out of the high drama unfolding before them like a fairy tale, he walked out of the place, got into his car and drove off and left everybody panting for breath.
You’ve just read the highlights, now the main stories. Helen and late Samuel were set to be joined in a holy wedlock on Saturday, March 21, 2020, at ECWA (Evangelical Church of West Africa) Church Seminary, Jos. And, to do so, they had everything under wraps, everything put in place.
The families printed invitation cards and invited guests, friends and loved ones. To lavishly entertain them, they cooked food the previous day and early that morning to serve them at the reception venue. And, to witness the occasion, many of them that live faraway, arrived one or two days before the ceremony. Everybody was in gay mood. But few hours to the commencement of the much-awaited ceremony, the devil struck in a way that left everybody reeling with sorrow, rather than with smiles and laughter.
Shocking account of a tragedy
An account of the tragedy given by a family member who gave his name as Gideon and the eldest cousin of the deceased showed that he was with Samuel before he suddenly took ill and died in the course of treatment. He revealed that both the late groom and he had gone to pick his wedding suit at his sister’s place at about 12 am on the eve of the wedding day. According to him, while they were waiting to do so, he fell to the ground and sustained a slight injury on his forehead. They all attributed it to some dizziness that must have come from the pres- sure of running around to see that things were in order for the wedding. In fact, on Thursday, when he complained to his bride-to-be about not feeling well, she too had thought likewise and had given him some drugs which she, a nurse, felt would help him to pull through. As things later turned out, nobody saw in the complaint and fall, a red flag for something worse coming. Gideon said that the slight injury that he sustained from the fall was treated at a nearby patent medicine store. Afterward, they left for their guest house where they hoped to catch some hours of sleep, no matter how short, before welcoming the day- break that was about to usher in the D-day.
Recounting further what hap- pened, he said that after about an hour of their arrival, things took a turn for the worse as Samuel started vomiting uncontrollably. This made him call for help, which led to his being rushed to Bingham University Teaching Hospital for treatment.
His words: “On Thursday, the late Yarling told his fiancé that he was not feeling fine and the fiancé who is a nurse gave him some drugs which he took. She also gave me some drugs to give him on Friday and Saturday morning before we leave for the wedding service. We were going to pass the night at a guesthouse, catch some hours of sleep before we go for the wedding that Saturday morning. Earlier, we had gone to his parents’ house on Friday evening to settle some issues.
“When we got there, in his usual manner, he knelt down and greeted his father before going over to hug his mother. They told him some things that he left undone and expressed their disappointment over his failure to inform them until then. He apologized and they ac- cepted his apology and said that there was no more problem. I also asked him what he would want God to do for him and he said that he would want Him to forgive him and change him so that he will be a better person.
“I can say that I was in the thick of everything that happened – the planning for the wedding and other things because I am the eldest of his cousins. I am more like an elder brother to him. We left to PIPC quarters to pick the wedding suit that night. But after we finished doing so, we were about to go when he fell down, although the impact wasn’t much. I asked one of his friends whether such had happened to him before then and he said he had convulsion. I said nobody told me this all the while. He had some bruises on his arm and face because he landed on his arm. When I took him to the chemist, he treated him for minor injury and said there is no cause for alarm. That happened at about 12 midnight after we left his family house.
“Before we left, I asked him if he was really okay, he said yes. But after sometime, he expressed the desire to pee and I took him to the back of the house but he asked me to take him to the toilet. There he defecated and then came out. I asked him again if he was alright and he said yes. My sister now took us to the guest house and he climbed to the third floor where we were lodged, all by himself. We got to our rooms at about 1am and I told him that he needs to take his bath because he had walked throughout the day. He said no, that he was tired and wanted to sleep. I went into the bathroom to have my bath. But by the time I came out I found out that he had vomited. I was surprised and confused. I asked him what the problem was but he kept saying that he was ok and that there was no problem.
“After sometime, he vomited the second and third time. I used a tissue paper to clean it. He asked me to take him closer to the edge of the bed adding that he was having the urge to vomit again. I said let me call a doctor but he insisted that he would be fine and went to sleep.
But after he had slept for about one hour without any problem, he woke up at about 2 am and started vomiting again. I was left with no choice than to call home to inform my people about what was happening. I made the call at about 2.30 am and at about 3am some of them came around and, together, we took him to hospital. There, the doctor on duty placed him on close observation after checking his pulse. He said he was ok. But after sometime, he slumped. We started praying while the doctor was treating him. At about 6am, he checked his pulse and said he was dead. We were dumbstruck. That was how the whole thing happened.”
Death and its aftermath
He described his death as painful and shocking and wondered why the late Samuel kept telling him that he was ok until things took a turn for the worse at the hospital. But one of his grief-stricken friends who spoke with Saturday Sun noted that there was no inkling that he was not well as he kept himself busy on Friday trying to put finishing touches to preparations being made for his wedding fixed for the following day.
His sudden death has thrown the two families involved into great confusion and deep mourning. When our correspondent visited them he found both parents of the bride and bridegroom and some of the guests wailing and throwing themselves on the hard earth as they became overwhelmed with grief. Following the shock she suffered as a result of the news, Helen, the bride, was said to have been admitted for trauma treatment at the same Bingham University Teaching Hospital where her fiancé gave up the ghost.
Disappointment on the verge of appointment
But the shock that Judith suffered the same Saturday, March 21, 2020, is of a different nature. Like Helen and Samuel, she and her fiancé, Rufus Aplang, were also scheduled to have their hands joined in a holy wedlock the same day, but at a different location of the town – God’s Glory Ministry, Jos. Miss Julian Dogo, one of the bridesmaids told Saturday Sun that trouble started when the fleeing groom gave shocking answers to the pastor’s questions during the exchange of marital vows.
Her account: “Aplang was asked at the altar by the Pastor: ‘Do you take Judith to be your lawfully wedded wife, to honour and cherish and take good care of her, for better or worse, till death do you part’? He replied, ‘No’. Thinking that there was a mistake somewhere, the Pastor put the question again to him. But he was shocked when he replied, ‘Pastor, I heard you clearly and I understand English language very well. My answer to your ques- tion is still No.’ Then the Pastor said to him, ‘but you are well-dressed and came ready for this wedding.’ But he replied: ‘Sorry, I made up my mind 10 years ago to disgrace her on our wedding day.’ As soon as he said that, he walked out of the church, followed by his best man and his friends. Together they drove out of the church premises.” It looked like a movie drama was being acted except that this was real and happening live. Not even a reality TV show could have thrown up such a shocking scenario.
Judith was left wondering what hit her and what to do with the now broken pieces of her life and heart. How do you play the coolguy role in a script in which you were not properly briefed before you were chosen as a cast in it? Not knowing what to do and how to handle this shocking embarrassment, she slumped inside the church, out of shock, and was taken to an undisclosed hospital in Jos. Mr. Peter Sani, best man to Aplang, who narrated the incident to Saturday Sun described it as very embarrassing and shameful to him and the guests who graced the occasion.
Friend and fiancée react
Asked why his friend behaved that way, he could not come up with any cogent reason except to say that: “Aplang is my childhood friend. Judith has been a friend and sister too. He dated her for over 12 years. I was in the church to serve as his best man and to witness the wedding. But he never told me that he was planning to do such a thing. I was shocked and highly disappointed with what happened.”
The man attributed his friend’s behaviour to some sort of bewitchment. “This is not ordinary, something must be behind it,” he said. “Aplang would always confide in me on any issue. If he had the plan to walk out on the girl at the altar, he would have told me. What happened is unimaginable. I came out of the church weeping profusely.”
Judith who is gradually recovering from the shock, confirmed that she has been in relationship with Aplang for a long time, “for over 15 years,” contrary to the 12
years that Sani earlier mentioned. And, according to her, they had passed through and weathered several challenges that ought to have broken the relationship but they didn’t. “I would have preferred a formal break-up of the relationship than this kind of embarrassment and public disgrace,” she said. “Given what happened, it will be difficult for me to trust any man because I am afraid of having this type of disappointment.”