The wedding took place exactly a month later. It was on a Saturday; at Christ Church, Owerri, where Ngozi’s family had been members for thirteen years. The service was extremely brief and they had proceeded to the reception at the five-star Concorde Hotel Plus. Arrangements had been made for them to have their honeymoon at Obudu in Cross River State.
As he sat next to Ngozi in the back seat on the way to the airport, Segun wasn’t sure of what to think about first. One thing he was sure about was that he had never felt so much peace. He had Ngozi’s left hand in his right, an involuntary habit he had developed. He observed the neatly trimmed lawns that divided the roads and the serenity of the streets. He thought about the flight and the week long experience he would have with Ngozi. He almost couldn’t believe they were now married.
“Honey, you look lost,” she interrupted his thoughts.
“Do I?” He turned to her and planted a kiss on the side of her head. He could hear the sound of a train approaching on the other side of the road as the driver manouvered towards Airport Road.
“I don’t know why, but I think you were thinking about the honeymoon,” she followed up.
“Yeah. And then I’m just so glad I married you.”
“Me too, dear. So, so glad,” she said and then dropped her head on his shoulder.
As the plane set out to take off after the in-flight announcements, Segun couldn’t have been more relieved. The attention on them from the departure area to the aircraft had gotten to him. Ngozi had noticed his look and in her usual way pacified him. After all, she thought, they were newlyweds and anyone who wanted to admire them was welcome.
For some minutes after take-off, they talked about the wedding ceremony. They had noticed Kelvin, Aminu and Bade at the church, but the trio had left after the ceremony to catch their various flights.
“Remind me to call Kelvin when we land,” he said.
“No problem.” She had already thought of making an appreciation list that would contain the names of the guests that had honoured them. Then again she thought of teasing Segun for a bit.
“But can’t that wait till our honeymoon is over? People are not supposed to hear from us until about a week.”
“Hmm, says who?”
“Says the ‘Fourteen laws of honeymoon’,” she joked.
“And that must be authored by my dear Ngozi Abdul.”
“You wouldn’t even wait for me to declare my change of name by myself!”
Just then, the in-flight announcer’s voice was back. He explained that there were signs that the flight might experience slight turbulence due to unprecedented weather conditions. He however urged passengers to be calm and that all was well.
Ngozi stretched out and held his right hand in her left. Segun could almost feel her pulse racing. He tried to calm her down, explaining that it was one of those things that happened once in a while on flights and that they would get through it.
Minutes later, the plane began to shake like a car going over several road bumps. Ngozi was holding on tighter now. Segun could see another woman on the opposite row clinging to her husband. He could also hear someone say ‘Jesus’ behind them. Just then, it felt like the plane was going down. The voice of the announcer was back, but this time it was hasty.
“Passengers, please release your life jackets as earlier demonstrated, we are losing altitude.”
“Jesus! Jesus!” The voice behind him screamed louder.
“This is not my portion! I reject this. I shall not die but live!” Another woman was shouting repeatedly from the back. The man in front of them had both his hands on his head; he was calling out “Allahu akbar” repeatedly. Segun could feel the plane going down faster. He tried to concentrate on the life jacket.
The announcer’s voice was back. “We are sorry about the situation. Passengers please put on your life vests and follow the instructions. We have lost 7,000 feets. We need to evacuate the aircraft as quickly as possible. Everything will be fine if you don’t panic.” His voice was stern.
The panic became even more severe after the announcement. Segun’s heart was beating uncontrollably now. He could feel his pants wet with urine. He tried to concentrate on the flight attendant at the entrance of the plane. She too was shaking. He strapped Ngozi with her life jacket first, then his. She was crying. He tried not to.
“Don’t worry dear. We’ll be fine,” he whispered, his voice trembling.
The plane was going down much faster now. Suddenly it skewed towards their side, still going down. The screams became louder. Only a few people didn’t have their life jackets on now. Three attendants hurried to help them, holding on to seats to make their way. The announcer’s voice was very loud this time.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are heading for a crash landing. Please stay calm as we make our way out through the emergency exits. Please follow all instructions, we will all be fine. I wish you the best of luck.”