She was forever unexpected and I was drunk on that about her – Atticus Poetry, Love Her Wild.
One click and I was suddenly transported from my cosy sofa in South East England to a beautiful wedding venue somewhere in Lagos, Nigeria. The English sun outside my window mirrored the African sun shining over the wedding. It was as though both suns had agreed to simultaneously grace this special occasion.
It was such a beautiful day and one I was very excited about. Today, ‘technology’ was in my good books. Usually its not. Everytime I think of the treasures lost through technological advancements I reign down curses. The walkman, boombox, vinyl record players and analog phones. Why do they have to be in the past? Just why?? I want them back! 😤
Nevertheless, on this day, I was grateful for technology simply for the fact that through its power, I was able to experience and be a part of something so beautiful and so magical -Ugo’s fairy tale wedding.
A few months back, my friend Ugo casually dropped the lines mid convo ‘I’m getting married’ and his plan was to have a small family do. A small family wedding, I thought. In Nigeria? Where weddings equalled lavish extravaganza? I was not sure how Ugo with all his brilliance – and trust me, he was brilliant, was going to pull this one off when each family member of the bride will probably want to invite 50 guests on their own. How was he going to control that?
But as a good friend I focused on letting him know that if I didn’t personally get an invite to his family wedding, I would most certainly have to crash it. We laughed about it but reality soon set in. It would be a real challenge to crash his wedding when I had a global pandemic to contend with, flight restrictions to battle, SARS officers to avoid and not to mention the merciless ticket prices to Nigeria in peak periods such as November/ December. Yeah, exactly. Sit your ass down girl. I told myself. You ain’t going nowhere. So I wished him all the best and soon came to terms with not going.
Then, just 2 days before the wedding, I got an electronic invite! I could not believe it. I was thrilled beyond words. But did I just mention Ugo sent me the link only 2 days before the wedding? Talk about African timing! Gheez who in heavens name does that??? Only a guy right? I ranted. ‘Cos a girl would understand you need to give time to prepare for such a big occasion. You need to sort the dress, the hair… ‘Oh my gosh!’ I gasped as my eyes widened. ‘My hair!???’
I rushed in front of the mirror then wish I didn’t. The view was disastrous. It was a right mess. Chaos. Avalanche. you name it, my locs were it. My roots were a sight and my next interlock appointment was not until next week. I was so tempted to bring it forward but what good would that do? It was Saturday morning already and the wedding was in a few hours!!!
‘Cocoa, chill, you’re attending the wedding via zoom’ My locs reminded.
‘Yes I knowww, but I still have to plan what to wear-‘
‘No you don’t,’ It cut in. ‘You can even go in your bathrobe, but if you must dress up, look over there. You can wear that.’
I looked over to the rail in the corner of the room where my small collection of clothing hung. Sticking out, was the ball sleeve of a floral patterned cream blouse. It had a matching skirt which a friend had altered for me to be a little bit more fitting. Not a bad idea to wear that I thought. I picked it out and set it on the bed. But my hair…
‘What do I do about you.’ I moaned. ‘You look a mess. I can’t attend with you looking like this.’
‘Fine. Go without me then. Kmt.’ was the response.
Oh here we go. 🙄 I nodded and rolled my eyes. I’ll never understand where this hair got it’s attitude from.
But really what do I do? My hair had its roots overgrown and it was impossible to hide cos of the thickness of my hair. It was that type of overgrowth you try to lay down with gel and it just rises again like freshly baked bread. Hair appointment as I said was a week away and I did not have a fairy godmother to wave a magic wand and sort this mess out for me.
‘Why are you fretting? We’ll attend the wedding looking like a hot mess. Who cares?’
Clearly my hair had never been to a proper wedding before and didn’t understand the importance of looking presentable to it. I pretended I wasn’t listening and carried on getting ready. It felt weird getting dressed but not actually going anywhere. I mean out of the house. But maybe my hair was right. The fact that I was attending the wedding online, no one could actually see me or my hair! ohhhh this was actually perfect! There would be no one to judge me for looking unkempt to a wedding. I didn’t need to worry about high maintenance females sticking up their noses at me. I didn’t need to worry about disapproving African mothers. I could look the way I did and enjoy the wedding without any judgement.
And with that, I dressed up and scrunched the top half of my hair together and held it in place with a hair band. That was it. I was done! I was ready to roll! Now I had plenty of time to get Mayana ready as well. You guessed it, Miss Two Puffs was attending the wedding too. Mayana wore her favourite blue dress which had floral patterns like mine but much smaller and her favourite blue boots to match. We were all set!
We entered the zoom meeting room only to discover the wedding had not started yet. Why did that not surprise me. It was an African wedding. But the view was delightful. We were greeted by rows and rows of cross backed white wooden chairs that sat elegantly in a beautiful garden as they waited patiently for the guests to arrive. Soon decorated butt’s of all shapes and sizes would occupy them. We decided to eat lunch of eba and egusi soup then take pre wedding selfies whilst we waited. One of the perks of attending online.
About an hour later, we re-entered the zoom meeting room to find the chairs were now occupied. And counting the numbers, this was certainly not a small family wedding as Ugo originally intended. My friend lost that battle and most probably to his mother-in-law to be lol.
A grand white piano sat across the lawn with pink roses dotted all around, for a sec I thought I had really entered a wonderland but hearing the notes the pianist played and the choir singing a top assured me I was still in Africa. Their voices blaring through the speakers as they sang African praise medlies I fondly remembered like ‘What shall we do today’ and that one that goes, ‘My God is a good God, yes He is..’ and ‘baba baba baba baba baba loke, babaaaaa’. The music went on and on and I was loving it! Mayana and I danced along in our living room.
In fact, the whole wedding was beautiful. The bride on her own was a show stopper in her cinderella like ball gown. The flower girls were so adorable and the bridesmaids looked amazing. Ugo and his groomsmen all looked devishly handsome in their suits and smart shoes. Everyone looked amazing. Everyone looked happy. It’s crazy to think that just a month before, there was a great civil unrest that left the streets of Lagos marked with the blood of peaceful protesters. I watched as Ugo kissed his bride and the audience cheered in celebration of their union. I smiled. It was deeply comforting to know that despite the hurt the youths of the nation were facing, love could still blossom.
On my side, it looked like things were going pretty well. I had gone through the wedding without having to worry about the state of my hair. That was a big win and I was feeling quite triumphant until I got to the wedding reception when the DJ called everybody to the dance floor and I suddenly turned from the spectator to the spectated.
At this point, it was now late afternoon and my friend, Lauma, came to visit with her daughter. Lauma was Latvian and her daughter who was just a year older than Mayana was also half Nigerian. So I thought this should be fun. We can both watch the wedding reception whilst the kids played. Not knowing that the organisers had already planned that those watching the wedding online had to participate too.
Someone was randomly selected from the meeting room and spotlighted. It was a woman in a white female version of the agbada. She wore a blonde side fringe low cut and danced by herself to the afrojams the DJ threw out. I was there feeling sorry for this person that had no idea this was going to happen to them, not knowing that I would be next. I saw the message come up in the meeting room asking me to accept the spotlight and panicked.
‘What the heck! What do we do?’ I asked anxiously. ‘Hide, hide, hide!’
‘Hide? Why you being silly for? Just dont click the button-‘ My hair started.
Too late, I had already clicked the button and accepted the invitation to be spotlighted out of sheer panic. I automatically started dancing but I tried to create distractions from my hair by grabbing Lauma and the kids, and forcing them to dance with me. We were cheered on in the meeting room. ‘Wow, see moves! Go Cocoa!’
This wasn’t such a bad idea! The organisers were thoughtful enough to make sure those watching online didn’t feel left out so we were having our own zoom wedding reception. Nothing to worry about really. There were only about 9 or so people in the zoom meeting room so if anything only 9 people would see my messy hair. No biggy, I could live with that. Oh how clueless I was! I found out later that eveing through my sister Angy who was there in person that our little zoom reception was being streamed live to the main wedding reception! 😱😱😱
‘Are you serious!?’ I asked in disbelief.
‘Yep.’ she replied. ‘We all saw you and Mayana dancing and your friend too.’
Hand over face. What a disaster. I reigned curses yet again on technology and all its advancements. I should have gotten away with attending a wedding online with overgrown roots but I didn’t. I can only thak God I didn’t listen to my hair and attend in my bathrobe. Now that would have made for an interesting wedding spotlight! 😂 Anyways I’m proud of myself. I took my messy hair and owned that dance floor. At least, that’s what I tell myself!
Feature image by: Avonne Stalling