My relationship with Tunji was more or less an engagement but nothing was official. I’m sure if people gave engagement rings back then, I would have been wearing one.
I was considered ‘marked’, everyone knew I had a boyfriend. My mum would introduce him as “Ǫkǫ Àfęsǫnà” which means Fiancé in Yoruba Language. Later my mum started suggesting that we should get pregnant but Tunji would just laugh and tell her not to worry, that we would give her all the grandchildren she was looking for. Tunji made a vow of chastity with me and had said we would wait till our wedding night before we ‘did’ anything. He would say “What’s the point of rushing to have a taste when you can easily have the whole pot for keeps”.
Not long after that, a cousin of mine, Laide, who lived in Lagos was getting married and it was going to be a big party. That was the first grandchild of my maternal grandmother that was getting married so the whole family was all agog.
Laide and I were very close growing up. She would come spend some time with us during her school breaks and I would do the same during my holidays. We kind of drifted apart when she got admission into the University of Ibadan. She came with her mum (my mum’s elder sister) to inform us of her wedding.
It was nice seeing her again…the last time I saw her was when she stopped by after my dad’s demise. unlike that visit, this time, we had time to talk and we did for hours. She told me everything about her fiancé.
How they met at the University of Ibadan, when he came to visit his younger sister that happened to be Laide’s friend, How he studied Medicine abroad but is now working in his father’s company. How he’s from a wealthy family. How they are planning to shut Lagos down for the wedding. She went on and on and on about how this was a fairytale come true for her. How she already got a brand new car from her would-be father-in-law for saying yes to his son. How she would be travelling abroad with her fiancé to shop for the wedding. And finally she said she wanted me to be her chief bridesmaid (we called it ‘best lady’ back then).
I couldn’t say No, I was super excited for her. She took my measurements and shoe size so she could get me the things needed on their shopping trip. They were with us the whole weekend and she met Tunji. “Hmmmn, he’s so handsome” was all she said and they left Sunday evening. My mum and her sister (Laide’s mum) already made arrangements for the “Asọ òkè” (the traditional head gear and cap for family members to wear at the wedding). They would meet at Ibadan some weeks later to go pick one and buy in bulk. Laide told me to come to Lagos before the wedding, she told me when she would be back from her trip and wanted me to come try my clothes and other things on. In case they would need adjustments. After they left, my mum still took a jab at me and Tunji, saying we should get something done soon.
My cousin got back and I quickly travelled to Lagos to go see her. The things she brought for me were beautiful. She bought everything needed to be the chief bridesmaid up to undies. I met her fiancé (Bola) for the first time as well. I also met the best man who happened to be the groom’s cousin. I noticed the way he was looking at me. I wasn’t sure I liked it. Bola took us out to have lunch and his cousin came with us. I had never seen such lavish generosity in my life. Poverty is a bastard. The restaurant he took us to… The car we drove in…
The people we met at the restaurant. I was seriously intimidated but I kept it together. I told myself I would just sit quietly and return to my Abeokuta after everything.
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