“Peju you’ve got to choose a gown,” I scolded her.
“We have been to all but one wedding dress shop on both the island and mainland, and you are yet to get a gown of your choice. I suggest you give Vera Wang a call. I am sure you would get something from her, or maybe we should look for Frank Osodi. He is as good as Vera Wang,” I said frustrated that we have been unable to get a design she liked.
We had spent the last two months in and out of all the wedding dress shops that we could find and much to my chagrin she had not been able to spot a style she loved. There was always a- but in the dresses she saw.
She wanted a wedding dress that could show her figure to the nines but appropriate and easy on the eyes. We saw quite a lot of body fitting tube gowns which looked great on her, but she complained she felt exposed in them. If my opinion counted at this point, I wondered how exposed you could get with a wedding gown snug on you, showing all your curves with full sleeves. You are in a long dress for crying out loud not some short skimpy dress.
There are two sides to any wedding gown – just my thoughts. It is either you went with something conservative where all the mothers and church officials are happy or provocative where the men will ogle at the bride. The mothers will eye in disgust, and the younger ladies will look with envy waiting for their time to come and how they would improve or use the same style.
We were yet to find this middle ground Peju was looking for, and here I was facing the herculean task of tagging along on every visit.
Peju suddenly had this look on her face like someone who had caught a divine inspiration. Why did I feel that whatever was coming would not be good?
She pulled out her Louis Vuitton bag and groped in it for about a minute before turning out with a one Dirham coin I supposed she got on our trip to Dubai.
“Heads, Vera Wang and tail, Frank Osodi,” she said tossing the coin into the air, and it landed on tail.
“You decide who would make your dress by flipping a coin?” I asked incredulously.
“Yes, so that settles it, I would describe what I want and hope he creates the magically look I desire,” said on a final note.
“Dress sorted we can move to other things.” she concluded.
The attendants at the shop were watching us like a television sitcom.
Frank Osodi had created an exceptional wedding gown for a bride in one of the issues of Ovation Magazine I got to read at the salon while waiting to make my hair a while ago. The writer said, “He was as good as any international designer.
Sheila my cousin, the nail expert had also worked on that Bride. I put a call through to her for contact details.
“I hope yours comes out exceptional, or I would blame myself,” I grumbled.
Sheila offered to call and book an appointment on our behalf. She told us he ran a busy schedule in and out of the country and would be lucky if he could take up our job.
“For a Nigerian designer?” I asked with disdain.
“Yes for a Nigerian designer,” she mimicked me.
“One whose design will make you will eat humble pie,” Sheila vowed.
“I hope so,” I said with no enthusiasm, still sceptical.
Turning to Peju, “I have gotten his number, but you heard Sheila, she would call on our behalf. Hopefully, that should help.”
“Back to your coin tossing, would you have gone with Vera Wang? I asked with doubt.
“I would have gladly gone with you on that trip,” I said dreamily with the advent of my new hobby in globetrotting, I could not pass up every opportunity to travel.
Peju was back into her bag pulling out God knows what this time around.
I screamed when she sheepishly handed a ticket to London with my name on it as I looked at her for an explanation.
“Phil got tired of listening to my tales of woe on how I had been unable to secure a gown,” Peju said like going to London was an everyday affair for both of us.
“How good could this get. Dubai then London,” I squealed.
“Girl, I might not envy your walk down the aisle to matrimony, but I do envy this trips,” I said pleased with my good luck.
“It was not my idea, trust me. Phil mentioned it last week, but I brushed it aside. Why do I need to go on an expensive trip to purchase a wedding dress I could as well get here, with proper fittings and adjustment should my weight change just before the wedding,” she said shrugging her shoulders in her peculiar way.
“Another all-expense paid trip. My life is becoming a fairy tale,” I gushed twirling around.
“Did you know London is on my list of places to visit before I turned 30?” I asked giddily with excitement.
“Where is your honeymoon destination? I asked manifesting my Oliver Twist tendencies.
“Why does the work of a maid of honour end at the wedding party?” I moaned as I envisioned her honeymoon destination.
“Oh no yours could continue till the honeymoon,” she said sarcastically pulling my hands as she led me out of the shop.
“You have just confirmed to me the reason I need to get you married within six months of mine,” she said with a look on her face that spoke an indomitable but achievable feat.
“How do you intend to go about that Mrs Peju Philip Idowu? By wagging some more tickets before me? I teased calling her by her future name. Phil was short for Philip so in away Peju gets to retain her name without the “s.”
“By being resourceful and perceptive,” she said picking her words like she was talking to a toddler.
“You don’t recognise love or romance when it stares you in the face, and that would be my starting point,” she looked me straight in the eye willing me to see her point of view.
“You are wrong Peju,” I said smiling confidently. I may not possess Peju’s specialisation in matters of the heart, but I was not so daft not that I would not see one if it stared me in the eye.
“Am I?” she asked daringly like one preview to a piece of information I did not have.
“Yes,” I said challenging her.
“Then it is no news to you that Andrew has eyes for you only,” she whispered with a hint of provocation in her eyes.
“Oh my dear friend now I am certain you are running a little crazy and losing some part of your senses with all this wedding preparation stress,” I said with a grin and taunting her.
“Andrew is our boss and nothing more. Please don’t mess with my mind, try something else,” I chastised her.
Peju laughed. “I told you. You won’t recognise love staring you in the face,” she said gleefully.
“Should we take a bet?” she asked.
“No way, you flipped a coin and your wedding gown and now want to bet on my love life? I am not travelling that road with you.
“A trip to a place you desire all-expense paid? She said throwing a bait at me.
I shrugged I had nothing to lose but my trip.
“I am in, I agreed.
She pulled out her hand for a handshake, and we did like two business partners only we were two young women betting real life issues like juveniles.
Have you given a thought to the dinner, every opportunity to chit chat and the look on his face when he sees you? If that is not some romance brewing, then tell me what it is. I won’t mess with your mind,” she said raising her hand in mock surrender having fun at my expense.
“Deny it all you want like but this is my new project that you recognise the need for romance in your life.
“You don’t toy with people’s life. We must play fair in this bet of yours,” I warned.
“Do you know what you have done? Every time I see Andrew, I would be checking out if what you said is true? I accused her.
“Lana, you won’t, you would start avoiding him from today onwards. I am only asking to give it a chance. Let go of Bode and move on,” she pleaded.
“Peju,” I called her name shaking my head from side to side. Our bet was already forgotten.
“Do you think all these romance stories happen all through marriage? I am not talking about the initial meeting and all the chemistry going on during the dating stage but after marriage does the love continue? The happily ever after story?” I asked.
“My parents’ marriage was a farce. They lived like strangers in the same house. I could not recall a time I saw them laugh together. They had different schedules in and out of the house that was a deliberate ploy not to be at the same place in the house at the same time. In front of the kids, they were civil and polite.
“Please pass the salt, I am sorry, please excuse me were what we heard in most of their conversations.
To their credit, they doted on us kids. We were their world, but it was like they made up in their relationship with us what they lost in theirs.
The politeness was so sickening like you can almost hear them use it before an argument.
“Please, I’m going to be mad at you and use unkind words.
“Excuse me you would not dare.”
“I am sorry, but I have to,” I repeated the words I had heard from my parents bitterly.
“Every word and action were controlled and regulated. I did not lack parental love, but I did not have an example of what an ideal home should be. The Television and books are not real they are a figment of someone’s fantasy and imagination of a perfect world, but life is not always perfect.
I was drawn to my Uncle Sege and his wife not only because I was his favourite niece and he doted on me, but I loved the way they both related to each other. Where they able to keep romance in their marriage because of the absence of children? Perhaps but I may be wrong.”
“Did you ask your mother why this was so?” Peju asked quietly.
“No,” I never did.
“Although when I was younger, I would ask her if she loved Daddy, and she would answer yes, and when I ask my Dad, he would say yes. They thought they fooled us, and we were not able to see through their act. I concluded love and romance must be a pain,” sharing with Peju was like relieving the pain and confusion of my childhood, but I continued nevertheless.
“You can imagine when Bode started talking about marriage. I panicked and pushed him away. I needed that space as I was getting suffocated with his affection. Love and devotion that I felt will turn to tolerance and politeness after marriage.
My mum said that he was a good man but was she a good judge of character? My Dad must have been a nice person but see the kind of marriage they had.
My parents behaved like the idle couple outside. They were not on a public display of affection but went to functions together dressed alike. They put a front so successfully that I can recollect someone commenting on how lucky my mother was to be married to a faithful and attentive man. Love and romance do not exist after marriage,” I concluded my story, opening up for the first time to someone.
“Thanks for sharing Lana. I did not know, but you need to disabuse your mind and open up. There are love and romance before and after marriage, and it depends on how ready the couple is willing to work on it. No two marriages are the same, and it is not always a bed of roses, but if you work hard at it, one can make theirs a heaven on earth.
Phil, and I have vowed to work through ours together tackling all issues as a team and not a person,” she said with a voice filled with love enough for the whole world.
“Your parents were once in love but something happened along the way that drew them apart, and they could not find a way back together again.
They may not have given a good example for marriage, but they stayed together for your sake.”
“Peju was right I never saw it that way. It would have been awful if they had separated and my sister and I had to be shuffling houses or choose which parent we wanted,” I thought to myself.
“Don’t be afraid to find love. Open up to it. Your mother’s experience does not have to be your experience,” Peju encouraged.
“You are older now, why not talk to them, and you might have new information that would help remove your fears. Who knows them opening up to you might be the beginning of a healing process for both of you,” Peju said.
“You sure have not done counselling in your last life?” I teased lightening the mood.
“Our experiences and environment shape us, but we have the power in us to use this to our advantage and achieve our potential,” Peju continued.
“You’ll take your pain and turn to gain. You might have given up in the past, but you will rise from it. Peju said confidently tapping my shoulder and taking one of my hands in a reassuring squeeze.
I gazed at my watch. “Peju we have been here for over two hours! I exclaimed.
We got into the car, and she drove off but not without her reminding me of our bet.
My mind had a lot and foremost was to have a talk with my parents.