Unforgettable, My Love Has Come Along, page 11
“Okay dear,” Aunt Joy responded, waving her hand.
Half an hour later, Orane and I toured the unique and very beautiful attractions in Ocho Rios. We visited the Craft Park and I purchased souvenirs for some of my co-workers. After several fittings in a department store and much to Orane’s relief, I finally purchased a pair of navy jeans that beckoned, “I am yours.” Orane purchased a black shirt for himself and two blouses for me. We made Burger King our lunch spot before heading home.
Two hours later, I was in full-blown preparation to attend the wedding of Devon, Orane’s friend and Mona, his wife to be. I quickly showered to spend time on my curly updo with wavy tendrils then applied foundation, bronze lipstick and earth tone eye shadow to complement my elegant outfit. Taking a last look in the mirror, I made my way to the living room.
“Gor…geous!” Orane sounded breathless. “You look quite picturesque.” He admired my black full length, slightly flare chiffon skirt and fitted bronze toned beaded sleeveless top, completed with striking black earrings and bronze evening sandals and purse.
“Thank you, Mr. Conway. You look the same.”
“I look picturesque?” He smiled and waited patiently as I formulated my comeback.
“My bad, poor choice of words; let me rephrase that. You look very distinguished.” I showed appreciation for his dapper attire, a cutting-edge classic two-button charcoal suit, burgundy shirt, burgundy and black striped silk tie and black dress shoes.
“You both look very nice.” We turned and saw Aunt Joy smiling at us.
“Thank you!” we responded.
“Aunt Joy, we are about to leave,” Orane said purposefully. “We will see you later.”
“Bye Aunt Joy,” I said, moving towards the door.
“Have a good time,” Aunt Joy replied as she followed us to the door and closed it behind us.
We drove to the wedding site, Abacoya Gardens and encountered the splendor of nature displayed by well-cultivated flowering plants and trees. Orane parked and we looked around the beautiful botanical garden, adjoining the spectacular cascading falls.
“The architecture is exquisite,” I commented, looking at the elegance of the great house, reminiscent of Jamaica’s colonial past.
“Yes. It is Spanish architecture,” Orane informed me.
He smiled at me. “Don’t forget I grew up in this town. I believe they also have a museum displaying a bit of Jamaica’s history.”
“Yes. The museum is focused primarily on the Taino Arawak Indians, Jamaica’s first inhabitants.”
I patted his shoulder. “History buff!”
He placed his arm around my shoulder and we stood for a moment, enjoying the scenery before entering a well-maintained lawn in the midst of the garden. We were greeted by an usher who seated us.
Oh no, rain! A water drop landed on my hand.
“Rain! Run!” someone screamed and we all took off.
“We have to run back to the car,” Orane said as everyone ran in different directions. We made it just in time. “Showers of blessings!” he declared wiping his face. “Running in the rain with the one I love.”
“Very poetic. Right back at you!” I grinned at him. My grin turned into grimace. “No outdoor wedding for us.”
“I agree. It can be beautiful but the weather is unpredictable.”
“This place is absolutely beautiful.” I touched his shoulder. “This is your kind of setting.”
“Call me Mr. Nature,” he said playfully.
“So, it will be.”
Orane smiled fondly at me. “When do you want us to get married?” I returned his smile. “Next Summer or Fall.”
He poked a finger in my side. “You could have said tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow then.” I giggled trying to avoid his fingers.
Thankfully, it was a brief downpour. By the time we walked back to the lawn, the bridal party had arrived but the bride and groom were nowhere in sight.
“The seats are all taken,” Orane said, offering his arm. “Let’s find a comfortable standing spot.”
We took up position under a tree on the outskirt of the lawn to have a clear vision of the wedding ceremony. While we waited, Orane greeted and chatted with Rayton, a childhood friend and brother of the groom.
“The bride and groom just arrived,” I said enthusiastically, interrupting Rayton and Orane’s conversation.
“I have to go,” Rayton said. “Annalisa, it was nice meeting you.”
A few minutes later, the bridal party took their places at the altar and Mona made a grand entrance, wearing a white cap sleeved satin A-line gown, pearl necklace and matching earrings and white high heel evening sandals. A bouquet of pink orchids completed her graceful appearance.
I carefully watched the entire wedding ceremony, hoping to glean helpful tips. Will I be nervous on our big day? A soft smile spread slowly across my face. No nervousness! I will release all my nervous energy, way before that day. The whole day must be surreal…wonderfully enchanting.
Orane’s gentle nudge and charming smile brought me back to the present as he gently took hold of my hand and escorted me to the reception area, a pavilion elegantly decorated in burgundy, gold and white.
An hour later, the Master of Ceremonies announced that dinner was buffet style so we picked up our food and returned to our table. Rayton and Jenna, his sister, joined us at the table.
“I would love to get married, if only I could find the right lady,” Rayton announced before sipping his water.
“Of all the ladies you know, don’t tell me none is suitable,” Orane questioned.
“None, my brother! None!”
Orane shifted in his seat and wrapped an arm around my shoulder. “As you know, I found my special lady,” he said, looking at me fondly.
My cheeks felt warm and tingly as all eyes focused on me.
“Congrats again, my brother!” Rayton exclaimed. He stood up and bowed deeply towards me.
I smiled and mouthed, “Thank you.”
“Thanks Ray!” Orane said. “We will keep you posted on our wedding date.”
Half an hour later, Orane toasted the groom. The guests laughed as he spoke about Devon’s escapades during their childhood days. He encouraged Devon and Mona to continue putting God first place in their lives.
I must have clapped the loudest at the end of his speech. “Great speech!” I told him proudly when he took his seat. He nodded and squeezed my hand.
At the end of the reception, Orane introduced me to Devon, Mona and a few other friends. Shortly thereafter, we left, totally exhausted and ready to ‘hit the sack’.
CHAPTER 15: TEARS
The sun was just beginning to rise, when we waved goodbye to Aunt Joy, Uncle Ernest and Aunt Bee, to head back to MayPo. Half an hour later, Orane pulled into a homeless shelter bearing the sign “Lightway Family Center”, to visit Perry Nattanay, his childhood friend.
“Babes, don’t be alarmed,” Orane said, before we exited the car. “Perry is a very wonderful person but he has many challenges in life.”
“That’s alright Honey,” I said comfortingly.
Orane spoke to the receptionist and within minutes, Perry ran as best as he could through the reception area, laughing and dragging his left leg. His determination touched my heart. He was overjoyed to see Orane and greeted him loudly, thanking God.
When Orane could get a word in, he introduced me as his future wife. Perry screamed with joy, danced around and wished us well. He then promptly introduced Ola, his girlfriend who was waiting quietly in the wings.
“We met at the shelter. I want to marry her,” he stated proudly.
Ola blushed and her small frame was wriggled with low laughter. It was obvious that Perry meant the world to her.
As we moved from the reception area and stood outside the building, Perry expressed his appreciation for the money and gifts that we ha
Sadness enveloped me!
There was a feeling of desolation and oppression in the atmosphere. I moved away from Orane and Perry, feeling the need to pray over the shelter. Yet, all I could say was “Jesus” as I moved around.
I fought back tears as Orane requested permission to pray. Perry and Ola agreed. With all heads bowed, Orane prayed for them and the shelter and sure enough, the heavy spirit was lifted from the atmosphere.
There was silence in the car as we continued our journey. I knew that Orane was thinking about Perry and so was I. Perry could barely walk and only one hand was functioning but he was filled with joy. I looked across at Orane, just in time to see tears welling up in the corner of his eyes. I reached into my purse and gave him a facial tissue and he dabbed his eyes as he drove. I waited for the right moment to speak.
“How did Perry end up in the shelter?”
Orane explained that Perry was raised in his neighborhood and that he was physically challenged from birth. When his parents died, Perry began living with a family member who migrated to the United States of America and left him in the care of another family member. Soon the task of taking care of him became burdensome so he was placed in the shelter. Orane kept in touch with him as much as possible and oftentimes visited him.
“God bless you Honey. You are doing what you can for Perry.”
Orane nodded thoughtfully.
An hour later, I realized that our route would take us past Natasha’s home so I called her. “Natasha, how are you?” I greeted her.
“Baby sister,” Natasha squealed.
“In the flesh, well almost.” I giggled. “Orane and I are in the neighborhood. Can we pay you a short visit?”
“Oh yes. Let me give you directions.”
“Hold on. Please give directions to Orane.” Natasha and her family had since changed residence.
“Hi Natasha.” Orane listened then laughed. “Yes. I have been hearing good things about you too. But we’ll talk…Yes. Yes. I’ll be able to find you.”
We drove across a meadow and I called Natasha to confirm that we were on the right track. Track indeed! The car bumped and scraped as we slowly traveled on the endless make shift dirt road. Immediately, I understood why Natasha and Colin, her husband drove heavy duty trucks. I smiled apologetically and my eyes graciously thanked Orane. His gentle gaze told me that everything was alright.
After what seemed like an eternity, we drove up a hill and into a Jamaican Georgian architectural style, two-story house with a wooden roof.
Natasha and Lori-Ann, her younger daughter, greeted us on the verandah. They were excited to meet Orane. “Let’s go inside,” Natasha said, ushering us into the living room.
The interior of the house was beautifully decorated with antique furniture. The Brazilian Cherry hardwood floor conveyed a feeling of happiness and warmth. We ate lunch in the dining room around a magnificent rectangular ten-seater mahogany dining table then left Orane to relax before the TV in the spacious living room.
Natasha and I entered her master bedroom and jumped on the bed, giggling like teenagers. She made crazy faces as she expressed her joy that Orane had proposed.
“I love him so much,” I whispered, sitting in the middle of the bed.
“I can see.” Natasha giggled. “It’s all over you.”
“Ahhh!” I flopped backwards on the pillows.
“I have a gift for you,” Natasha beamed, swinging her legs over the side of the bed.
She reached for a gift bag beside the nightstand and handed it to me. I pulled out and gazed at a beautiful white cowl-neck jersey top.
“Thank you,” I said, hugging her.
“Wait until you see this,” she said, eagerly opening a drawer on the dresser. She pulled out a midnight blue sleeveless cotton blouse with two bronze toned chains that served as the straps.
“Wow! It’s gorgeous.”
“Go ahead, try it on.”
I slipped into the blouse and admired myself in the full length mirror.
Natasha laughed enthusiastically as I modeled. “That’s for your honeymoon.”
“Oh sis, thank you,” I said, hugging her.
A few minutes later with my new blouses in hand, Orane and I waved goodbye to Natasha and Lori-Ann.
The sun had begun its descent over MayPo when we arrived at Maydine’s home, totally exhausted. Orane parked at the gate and took out my carry-on.
“Babes, get some rest,” he said. “I’ll see you later.”
“Honey, you’re exhausted and so am I,” I said, touching his muscular arm. “Why don’t you take a nap and we’ll talk later.”
Orane inhaled then exhaled deeply. “Okay.”
“Hello lady and gentleman! Welcome back!” We turned and saw Maydine approaching the gate. Mr. Mohan watched from the verandah.
“Sister Maydine!” I gave her a big hug.
“Mrs. Mohan, good to see you,” Orane said, hugging her.
“You too Orane,” Maydine responded.
“Honey, I’ll just pull my carry-on in the house.” I winked at Orane before hugging him. “Bye.”
“I will call you later,” he said smiling. “Bye Mrs. Mohan.”
“Bye Orane,” Maydine said, her smile softened her pleasant features.
Orane waved at Mr. Mohan before sliding in the driver’s seat and we watched his car disappear around the bend.
“Well, well!” I turned to see an animated Maydine dancing about. “I want all the details.”
I laughed heartily. “We will be up all night.”
CHAPTER 16: REQUEST
That was Mr. Mohan’s response when I requested permission to go on a date, back in the day. Maydine invited Orane to dinner which stirred up past memories of my meager dating life during my late teens. Mr. Mohan was a man of few words so conversations about dating during high school were not “pretty”, not at all. To put it mildly, Mr. Mohan was all about school. “Your mother sent you here to complete your education,” he said back then.
I decided to have a little chat with Mr. Mohan prior to dinner. So far, his interactions with Orane had been very courteous. I had not formally spoken to him about Orane but I was sure that Maydine filled in the blanks. Still, I would rather err on the side of caution. I found Mr. Mohan in the living room, reading the newspaper on the burgundy recliner
“Mr. Mohan,” I called out to him.
“Yes ma’am.” He shifted the newspaper to the side.
“Orane will be here shortly.”
“Yes ma’am.” A smile crept up the corners of his mouth as he peered at me over his reading glasses.
“Please don’t give him a hard time,” I pleaded gently.
He chuckled and folded the newspaper. “I wouldn’t do that.”
Immediately my eyebrows arched. “Please say yes to whatever he is asking.”
Mr. Mohan smiled. “Okay ma’am.”
Half an hour later, Orane arrived and we sat down at the rectangular six-seater mahogany dining table, spread with stewed curried goat, baked chicken, steamed rice and peas, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, tossed salad and fruit punch. Maydine brought out her finest plates and gold cutlery.
I playfully poked Maydine. “My sister, when I grow up, I’m going to cook just like you. This is simply divine.”
Maydine smiled at me. “Glad that I still have the touch.”
“Yes. Dinner tastes delicious!” Orane joined the conversation. “Mr. and Mrs. Mohan thanks for the invitation.”
“You are always welcome,” Maydine beamed while Mr. Mohan nodded.
Glancing at me, Orane decided to seize the moment. “Mr. and Mrs. Mohan, I have been meaning to talk with you.” Maydine and Mr. Mohan perked up in anticipation. “Annalisa and I have been talking for a while. I love her. It’s not every day that a
Go on Honey! You said that so well! It was my proudest moment. He was calm and self-assured. I felt like a rare and sacred treasure.
“Babes, would you like to say something?” Orane asked tenderly.
I looked up to see everyone staring at me. “No,” I responded quickly. For some strange reason, his question caught me off guard.
“You have nothing to say.” Maydine’s mouth fell open. “Now that’s a first.”
Everyone laughed while they waited patiently for me to regain my power of speech.
“Nothing right now,” I said bashfully. Bewildered by the sudden attention, I found myself uncharacteristically tongue-tied, rendered speechless.
Speechless! Me? This was a LOL (laugh out loud) moment.
Mr. Mohan turned to Orane and smiled proudly. “Annalisa has waited a long time to get married. I would not like her to be disappointed. Please take good care of her.”
OMG! (Oh My Gosh)
A veiled threat!
No, an open threat!
Maydine tried hard to look unconcerned. Her eyes focused on her plate then she burst into nervous laughter. As I anticipated, Orane took what was said with grace and confirmed that he would take care of me.
“You have our blessing,” Mr. Mohan said and Maydine nodded approvingly.
Phew! That went well.
A gentle smile appeared on Mr. Mohan’s face and remained there throughout the rest of the meal. The evening ended with Ariel Brut Cuvee non-alcoholic sparkling wine and lots of laughter. Mr. Mohan and Maydine gave us tips for keeping a great marriage. After all, they had over thirty years of experience.
CHAPTER 17: FAMILY TIES
New Year’s Day, my family members and relatives who were in Jamaica decided to visit Mama at the family home in Litskel, a two-hour drive from Maydine’s home. I was looking forward to seeing Mama who I had not seen for over six months so I woke up early to pack food for the trip.