The square, fold over pearlized ecru wedding invitation card passed around the room. With each hand that briefly held it came a “wow” or “it’s very beautiful” from its owner. Mrs. Bodunrinde was pleased with the reaction the card received. Her investment in the optional beveled borders was well worth it because members of her NGO thought it gave the card a distinguish look.
She described her daughter’s wedding gown as a satin A-line dress. The satin she chose because of its exquisite drapes and as they would all agree that an Inverted triangle figure like Tejumade’s will flatter an a-line dress. The bodice would be embroidered not with sequins but fourteen karats diamonds which would later be made into a necklace and bracelet for her unborn granddaughter. The details and color of the aso-ebi she left unsaid, her intention is to wow them as she did with the wedding invitation.
“Are your in-laws the same Akindugbe? The Akindugbe enterprise?” Mrs. Komolafe the vice president asked. Her face wore a somewhat quizzical look almost mocking.
Although her demeanor did not betray her, Mrs. Bodunrinde felt uneasy. This question was one she was afraid of. Her constant fights with Tejumade had been why she had to pick Sesan Akindugbe for a husband. He was first introduced to her as an entrepreneur until she probed further and got to know he owned a small shop managing fifteen workers – he is the head artisan. – A mere carpenter. “If you want to do charity, please donate money and not your entire life” she advised Tejumade on several occasions.
“No, they are not the same Akindugbe, but I think they are related one way or the other. It doesn’t matter if he is not from wealth, you know children of nowadays want to marry for love. Anyway, let’s get back to the agenda of this meeting. Where are we with the funds for the orphanage?
Sweat trickled down Sesan’s armpit even though he took a shower thirty minutes ago. The heat is merciless on those it considers lazy and sitting in traffic is regarded as idling away the day. He removed his fila, as if the breeze will somehow flow through his head to dry the sweat under his arm which by then had moved down his side. He tried to maneuver his way into the middle lane which seemed to move at a snail’s pace but his mother’s gele obstructed his view. She looked sad. Although her head was abased, Sesan could see the traces of wrinkles around her eye area. It only happens when she squints – an askance look of disapproval. He glanced at the rearview mirror a few times trying to catch her attention but to no avail.
Mrs. Akindugbe did not object the union between her son and Tejumade but she felt the Bodunrindes overbore them with their superior attitude. After the momi nmo e, both families agreed that the Akindugbes will host the engagement party for the couple but to her dismay, she got an Invitation with a letter inviting her to her son’s engagement party stating ‘the consensus of opinion is that we should do the engagement as well’. The opinion of whom they took, the letter didn’t say.
Sesan drove through the landscaped arc driveway to the massive building that stood in the middle. The valet attendants did not approach him; they simply looked at the car and pointed to where he could park. The Mercedes behind him got a different treatment; they almost carried the man into the building. Sesan walked with his parents to the entrance where he was asked for his invitation. “I am the groom” he mentioned. With a swift pass the guard motioned him in but not without a thorough glance.
The hall was beautifully lit with chandeliers. Orange and white bandhni drapes along with gold tissue surrounded the entire room. Inflated vinyl champagne bottles decorated with colored streamers added décor to individual tables. Waiters carried trays of intoxicating drinks served in slender transparent glasses to warm the atmosphere for a successful party. On the right side of the room sat the rest of the Akindugbe’s relatives who exhaled a sigh of relief when Sesan and his parents entered the room. It was not that the groom was late but many of them were on pins and needles watching the unaccustomed glamour being played out. At a point, each and everyone secretly checked their invitation again to see if they had indeed come to the right party.
The Alaga iduro started the ceremony. Sesan’s relatives did the customary prostration to Tejumade’s family. After much cajoling from the groom’s relatives they were allowed to sit down. A fabricated story was told on how the couple met, alluding to their difference in economic background. Tejumade was praised for her education, manners, beauty and character.
“Sesan, you can't find a girl better than Tejumade” the Alaga iduro bellowed through the microphone. “But we all know she can”
The room rang with laughter but it was louder on the left side.
“We now call on soon to be Mr. and Mrs. Bodunrinde …oh I am sorry Mr. and Mrs. Akin…. Akindubi… Akindugbe” the Alaga Iduro managed to say
The left side hearty laughter rang again.
Tejumade was asked to take out one item she will always need out of the trousseau Sesan’s relatives presented as a gift to her. She looked through the box and drew out a set of iro ati buba; she hesitated for a minute then she picked up the oja aran instead. She walked briskly towards the Alaga iduro who paused in her speech; unsure of what to say.
Laughter rang on the right side of the room this time
Mrs. Akindugbe knew her moment had come. At last she will be recognized as the Iya oko.
Her gesture was calculated. She took the microphone from the Alaga iduro and walked to Tejumade.
Although, she knew it was unnecessary and petty, but still opt for the chance
“I am glad that we still have two things to teach you in our family. Things your refinement cannot erase nor can your family wealth buy. They are our culture and customs.” Mrs. Akindugbe guided Tejumade back to the trousseau and handed her the white bridal bible.
“This is what you were to take.”
Her speech was a waltz to the rest of the Akindugbe family. They welcomed their triumph with thudding claps.
Tejumade dropped the bible and spun on her heels; she ran as fast as she could out of the room. Sesan followed. Confusion and murmurs overtook the hall and shame of ruin registered on both the mothers’ faces.
Aso-ebi - Attire for the family
Fila - hat
Gele - headtie
momi nmo e - Introduction
Alaga iduro - MC/Narrator
iro ati buba - Blouse and wrapper
oja aran - Velvet clothe used for securing a child when backed
Iya oko - husband's mother