My wife and I were planning our wedding and the expenses were climbing up the steep like a stallion on crack. I could not understand why she didn’t want us to look at it from my own point of view. It made me sick. We were a young couple and needed to take life easy but Bimpe would none of it.
“I am one of the most respected choristers in my church and also one of the top executives in my office,” she argued. “You don’t expect me to do a small wedding do you?”
I didn’t want to argue too much over the matter because her salary was twice what I earned. My elder brother, Dafe who had been married for over eight years advised that I should take things easy and avoid argument with her until we were both settled down as man and wife.
“Do you mean that I should not query this outrageous sum that she wants us to spend on this wedding?” I asked my brother when I went to show him the budget from our event planner; we were going to spend three million six hundred and seventy thousand naira! Although Bimpe said I should part with only one million naira so that she would make the larger chunk available, it still did not sit well in my head. That outlandish figure continually gave me migraines.
Even Dafe could not hide his displeasure when I passed the paper to him but he still maintained I take things easy with her. He was shocked when he took the paper from me. The hall where the event would hold in a five star hotel was going to cost us eight hundred thousand naira. There were many other expenses pegged with outrageous sums. The makeup artist was going to take a hundred and ninety thousand naira. Bimpe said that was a good bargain as her friend who lived in Lekki spent times three of that amount on her own wedding.
“Fejiro,” Dafe put his arm across my shoulder. “If she is bringing all that sum as the woman and you are to bring one million naira, I advise you don’t complain. Women don’t seem to understand that weddings are not as important as marriages. The wedding will last for only one day but you two will be in the marriage for the rest of your lives. What happens when the children begin to come into the picture? All the same, please let sleeping dog lie. This is a phase and it will pass.”
Dafe agreed to help in his own little way. He promised to give me the sum of two hundred thousand naira. My elder sister, Juliet and her husband promised to assist me with a hundred thousand naira but she did not hide her discontentment.
She was totally against us spending all that money just for the wedding. “Fejiro, even if your fiancée has a money tree planted in her bedroom, I still maintain that the money the two of you are planning to spend is too much. What are you people going to eat after the wedding?” she blurted angrily as she spoke with me on the phone. “Listen my brother, I have been married for over ten years now and I must tell you that none of the over one hundred people that attended my wedding and ate to their fill has called to ask how I am doing with my family. This whole wedding thing is just too glorified. It’s just a white elephant project that young struggling couples should distance themselves from.”
I tried to talk to Bimpe but she was still adamant. Even her younger sister, Ronke secretly confided in me that her parents were against our spending too much money but because they were not going to be financially involved, they reluctantly gave it the nod.
“Fejiro, you don’t have to give yourself headaches over this issue. It will come and pass. Do you know the number of persons that will be attending or the gift items that we will get from them? I have a feeling that my pastor and my boss will each give us a car.” Bimpe told me explicitly. “The gift items we will get will surpass the money we are going to spend I bet you. Don’t underestimate your wife to be o.”
That was the last time we talked about my fears. We fixed a date for the wedding; March 28th. My elder brother gave me the money he promised me on the 2nd of December 2019. My sister too did shortly before Christmas. I got the six hundred thousand naira loan I applied for in my office from our cooperative. Bimpe invited Asabe, the event planner and we looked at the list again for the umpteenth time.
“I want all the souvenirs and the invitation cards to be ready before the middle of January.” She told the lady. “I have already ordered the aso ebi from Dubai and they will be arriving before the end of the month.”
I was surprised to hear about the aso ebi because she never discussed it with me but because I had been advised not to argue with her, I kept mute. However, inside me a battle was brewing.
We gave the event planner the money and she set out to work immediately. She brought the design of what the cake and the hall would look like the following week and we told her we liked it. By the end of December, she called to tell us that over eighty percent of the job had been taken care of. She brought the wedding gowns for Bimpe to choose from. Initially, Bimpe had insisted that she would like to wear a brand new wedding gown but after we talked about if for a while, she agreed to rent one so long as it would fit her perfectly. She was a very pretty woman who was always the cynosure of all eyes.
Jokingly, she protested; “You want me to rent a wedding gown but you’re going to wear a brand new suit that day with your friends and best man abi.” I chuckled and told her that it was different. We were returning from the eatery after we had met with Asabe. The next day, the aso ebi arrived from Dubai and Bimpe began to call all her friends and relatives. She also displayed them on social media. Many of these people resided outside Lagos. Most of them promised to pay before the D-day. According to Bimpe, she was going to make over half a million naira profit from the sale of the aso ebi and I felt proud of her in a way for being business oriented.
January came in no time and plans were in top gear for the wedding. The estate agent came for the rent too but there was no money.
“Please give us until the first week of April,” Bimpe told him on the phone that evening. “We will pay after the wedding.”
The agent was Yoruba. He promised to talk to the landlord on our behalf. The rent had been increased after the renovation in November of the previous year. It was six hundred and fifty thousand naira initially but was moved to eight hundred.
When he called the next day and told us that the landlord had insisted we pay half of the rent and pay the other half by April, Bimpe and I agreed that I should sell my Nissan Almera car so that both of us would manage her Toyota Camry.
“I don’t want this to disturb or disrupt our plans for the wedding.” She told me. Four days later, we found a buyer for the Nissan and let it go for four hundred and fifty thousand naira. That day, I transferred four hundred thousand naira to the landlord. From that day, I began to use Bimpe’s car while she shuttled to the office. Most times she returned home complaining bitterly about the unruly attitude of passengers or bus conductors. When it became hotter, I decided to let her have the car while I shuttled even though my officer was farther than hers.
Soon, we began to hear about the corona virus pandemic in China. The news began to filter in whispers. As a nurse, we were being conscious of the health implications if it got into the country. I expressed this fear with Bimpe and the outburst from her silenced me.
“We are a peculiar race, a royal priesthood. Have you not heard what Daddy said? This is when those who aren’t serving God in truth and spirit will know the mistake they are making. As a child of God, you need not fear.”
Bimpe did not even believe the Italian man’s story when the minister for health, Osagie Ehanire announced it on the 27th of January. She waved me off when I told her that hundreds were going to die.
“We are not going to be counted among the dead but among the living. Fear not because fear is the opposite of faith..” After then, I didn’t bother to tell her anything again. All her concentration was surrendered to the wedding that was approaching. I decided not to bother her with the issue of COVID 19 anymore.
Along came the rapid spread of the virus as I earlier feared but my fiancée still believed that all would be well. By the middle of March, it began to get clearer to her that things would not go in our favour as she had expected. Many of her friends and relatives all over the country began to give excuses why they wouldn’t be able to make it to the wedding. The fear of the unknown made them all to withdraw into their shells.
On the 28th, we had our wedding but the seats were empty. Most people were already conscious of the virus and afraid of social gathering for fear of their lives. Even though we offered to provide sanitizers and face masks, people were still scared to come. Again, there was rumour that the president was going to impose a lockdown on Lagos and Abuja the following week. It became very obvious that we had miscalculated and built our castles in the air.
No one gave us a car gift. I was shocked when the makeup artist painted my wife into a demon that day for all that money! Bimpe was a very pretty woman who ordinarily needed no lipstick or eyeliner. How she allowed herself to be talked into this whole makeup thing made me sick.
Before the end of the day, Bimpe had become a bomb ready to explode. She quarreled with everyone including her bosom friend, Adeola who was the bride’s maid and Asabe the wedding planner. It was during the lockdown that the realities dawned on us. As a nurse, I was among the frontline workers and was always at work. But Bimpe could not go to work as an airline staff.
I began to notice that my wife was becoming very restless and always answering her calls secretly sometimes. Again, every so often when her phone was ringing, she would not answer. I didn’t want to ask what the matter was because something told me that whatever she was hiding, I was definitely going to find out soon.
On the 4th of April, her friend Adeola stormed into our house in anger. I was at home that Saturday and needed some rest after having worked all night at the hospital. I was sleeping on the couch.
At the top of her voice, Adeola raved and vituperated. “Bimpe, I won’t leave this house until you give me my one point two million naira today. I don’t care whom you go to sleep with this time to get it. You blocked me on whatsapp and facebook and refused to take my calls. How ungrateful! You are sending me three hundred thousand naira out of one point five million. Was that our agreement? You are so callous and wicked. You think I don’t know that Alhaji gave you five hundred thousand naira last week after you went to sleep with him at Eko hotels? And you’re sending me only three hundred thousand naira from it…”
Wild horror lined my wife’s face as Adeola spilled all the beans. I could not believe my ears. I was shocked when I found out that Bimpe had gone borrowing from the microfinance bank where Adeola works to finance our wedding; a wedding that was a disaster! A wedding that left us in debt! And for this senseless reason, she had turned herself into a cheap whore!
That was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. All her endless pleadings fell on deaf ears as I quickly gathered a few of my important belongings and left the house. The more I try; the more difficult it has been for me to get my mind off it. I have been squatting with my friend since then and avoiding all those who have been calling to remind me that marriage was for better for worse.
This worse scenario is beyond me; too bitter a pill for me to swallow!
By Japheth Prosper
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