Tuesday, July 10, 2007

WEDDING FEVER - Inspired by a 'text-versation' with Uzo

Weddings… I am absolutely drowning in them this year.

The first wedding I attended in 2007 was on 6th January – my friend and ex-classmate, D, who I’ve known for well over a decade now, sashayed up the aisle in a gorgeous strapless mermaid gown. The most recent wedding I attended this year was a few days ago, on the 7th of July. This time it was L. L is the son of one of my mother’s closest friends, and brother of a close childhood friend of mine (a girl I have known all my life).

D’s January wedding was a stylish evening affair – the hall was lit up beautifully, and the guest list featured the crème de la crème of Abuja society. Everyone was dressed to the nines – this was a wedding strictly for the fashionistas and the ‘high society’ types (so WTH was I doing there? LOL). They even tried to do the whole invitation-only thing (very rare in Nigeria) – didn’t really work though. I really loved the fact that the wedding was very much D’s style – she has always been a very classy chick. It was still harmattan season, and I think it was appropriate to have an elegant, tasteful wedding at that time of the year. I loved the wedding – it was nicely put together.

L’s wedding, on a rainy July day, was very different – it was vibrant, colourful and intimate. Down-home, fun, relaxed. Don’t get me wrong, there was a big crowd there, but they were people who knew the couple well and were genuinely overjoyed to see them come together. Everyone was so excited and thrilled… and we danced… and danced… and danced, to the wonderful live music. Even the pastor at the service, who proclaimed his happiness that his ‘children’ were getting married, boogie-d down right to the ground. No-one outdid the radiant bride and exhilarated groom in terms of their joy and their dance moves, but everyone did get down. It was just so joyful and exuberant.

There was even a little Bollywood angle – at the reception, the Master of Ceremonies at the wedding went:

“You know the way they dance around trees so romantically in Indian movies? Now L, I’m going to sing you a song from an Indian film, and I want you to pick up O (the bride), and dance with her in real Indian-film-style.”

L was all too eager to comply. He lifted the blushing bride into his arms and danced gaily with her to the MC’s terrible rendition of ‘Dus Numbri’ (the title song from ‘Dus Numbri’, a cool 70s Hindi action flick that is extremely popular here in Nigeria but doesn’t seem to have made the same impact elsewhere in the world). The MC basically sang gibberish, except for the ‘Dus Numbri’ parts. Anyway, it was a really cute moment – corny, funny and really romantic. Then the MC jokingly tried to get O to carry L and return the favour – it was just so cute.

Anyway, in between D’s wedding in January and L’s July nuptials, I don’t even want to think about how many weddings I’ve been to – the number would be really crazy. And to think I actually haven’t been able to go to some of the weddings I’ve been invited to! Almost every weekend so far this year has been a wedding weekend. Over the 3-day Easter weekend alone, I went to 3 different weddings – one in Osun state (western Nigeria) on the Saturday, one in Delta State (eastern Nigeria) on the Sunday, and one in Anambra State (further up into eastern Nigeria) on the Monday. And I had to turn down an invitation to attend my cousin’s wedding on the Tuesday, because I had to be back in Lagos for work on that day (plus I was totally exhausted from the constant hopping on ‘danfo’ commercial buses and okadas (commercial motorbikes) over the weekend).

And these 2007 weddings were not the weddings of random acquaintances – these were close cousins (I come from a very big, close-knit extended family), close family friends, childhood friends, ex-classmates, mentors, “mentees”… people I dearly love – people who it was really great to see enjoying the (touch wood) happiest day of their lives.

And there’s no sign of abatement – for me, this happens to be that much-talked-about season in an adult’s life when all their friends and family are signing the dotted lines – left, right and center. And all the same time – like it’s some kind of race. This weekend I’m off to Kaduna (northern Nigeria) for my cousin’s wedding, and in two weeks’ time, my dear friend H will tie the knot here in Lagos. The week after that, it’s another close friend, Z, getting hitched up in Anambra State… and on it goes… right up to December.

I’m getting kinda giddy (but tired) just thinking about it. I mean, I love weddings, I love sharing in people’s joy and experiencing the richness of our cultural heritage (weddings are a fascinating window into culture and tradition – and I’m blessed to have friends and family from every part of the country, and practising different religions, which makes the learning experience easier and more enriching). Each wedding is different, unique. But, there is such a thing as overkill… LOL It does start to tell on you a bit, after a while… especially when you’re so tired from all the wedding activity (it’s a whole lot of work, organising a wedding) at the end of each weekend, and you have to keep shelling out all that hard-earned cash for travel expenses and aso-ebi.

(For the uninitiated, 'aso-ebi' is kinda hard to explain, defining it as a type of ‘uniform’ doesn’t quite cut it – basically it’s a practice that originated in western Nigeria but is now done all over the country. We make clothes (or headgear) out of a specific material and wear it as a mark of solidarity with the couple. Aso-ebi is typically worn by groups – the bride’s friends, the bride’s siblings, groom’s extended family, the mother-of-the-bride’s friends etc etc. A wedding might feature one dominant aso-ebi, or as many as a hundred different ones – depending on how many different groups decide to have one.)

I have no plans of curing myself of this wedding fever, though – I’m just going to have to sweat it out. Not because I am hoping that people will do the same for me (I’ve lived long enough to know that that kind of maths simply does not work), and not because these people would be really upset if I didn’t show (although some of them would). I just genuinely believe that I should try to be there for people I care about as much as I can. As long as I’m able to do so, I will happily share in their joys as well as their sorrows. And I do so love weddings… I really do. At the end of the day, it is really worth it for me.

All the weddings I’ve been at recently put me in the mood to re-watch (for the umpteenth time) one of my favourite Bollywood movies – one that’s a bit of a wedding opus. And this time I watched it with new eyes – will be back soon to let you know what I learnt… so I guess this is a prelude of sorts....