Right people. So, in the spirit of le wedding, decided to write a short story centered not around a bride or groom or any of the usual suspects in wedding stories. This one is about the make-up artiste. Enjoy.
Agnes Omotola Braide. Daughter of a Yoruba woman and an Igbo father. If you had read the story you are about to share on any blog, you would curse the person out in all the languages you speak as a daughter of Jezebel, sent from the pits of hell and who had the hottest parts of hell as the only destination they were good enough for. But here you are, naked except for the sheets you are wrapped in. The movement beside me called me back to the present. One touch, and fire ran through my body, enhanced by a second feeling I refused to admit I felt. But it was there, gnawing at my heart, clipping at my heels.
Forty eight hours earlier, I had woken up to the worst news possible for a young twenty eight year old Nigerian girl. Here in Nigeria, at twenty eight, you are already at the line of joining the “so you have not seen someone to marry you” crowd, that crowd that the Nigerian society unjustly does everything to tag as failures at womanhood. What keeps you going though is when you have a man everyone knows is your own. In the local parlance, you guys are “serious” and it’s only a matter of time before he drops on one knee and produces the shiny stone that you’ll pretend to be surprised to see when in your mind you are really saying “what took you so long?”
So, here was my twenty eight year old self, waiting for my Tega to do it. A little about us. I’m a make-up artiste, one of the best known in the country. Brides book me months in advance for their weddings and I’ve been in almost every Nigerian state and all the usual Nigerian wedding destinations like Dubai, London, the U.S, Bahamas and Seychelles to make brides pretty on their big day. Tega, on the other hand, was a suave advertising firm owner. Eligible bachelor extraordinaire, I’d met him before his rise began, and we had been together for six years now. I still think of this wrongly. It hasn’t sunk in. What I meant to really say is that we were together for six years until 48hours ago. That Thursday morning, as I was preparing to go and make my latest bride up for her engagement ceremony, I was making my early morning rounds on the blogs when I first saw the pictures. It was on every blog, every single one of them. Tega had gotten married to that witch the day before.
For two years, I’d known about her. She was his side-chick, but it had never been serious. I had initially made a humongous scene and quarreled with Tega. I was in the “how could he” phase at that time. But even as I fought my man, it seemed to push him further into her arms. My wiser friends borrowed me brain and I wised up. She was the side-chick, and I was the main one. I needed to behave like my status. So I gave Tega a stern warning that I didn’t want to see or hear about her again and then ended the quarrels. He was genuinely relieved. He stayed off her for a few months, but men are so hopeless when it comes to these things. He codedly started seeing her off and on again. I was tempted to throw a tantrum, but decided not to follow those instincts and turned a blind eye. It worked. It seemed the side-chicks changed but none ever got really serious. Tega and I moved steadily towards the marriage train. Until I got the shocker of my life that morning. Apparently, I had been the side-chick for a while and hadn’t known. He had married her. She was from the right elite family and not a hustler like me, and Tega probably calculated that he would ride on her name to get into the highest circles of society. My wising up now seemed like the most foolish thing to do.
But I, Agnes, being the strong woman I believe myself to be, packed my work things and went to Lekki Phase 1 to the bride’s family house and got to work. She was pretty, but oh my, she was one bridezilla. I normally would have left the venue to go and chill in my hotel room and prepare for the usually hectic wedding day, but decided to stay back so I wouldn’t be alone that day and start dwelling on dark thoughts. Better to postpone the evil day and party away. It was a decision I wish I hadn’t taken now.
It was while at the engagement that I listened to him. He said the words he knew would get to me. He knew me better than I thought he did, it would seem. My head told me to hit him over the head with a spiked baseball bat, that he was evil, but my heart refused to listen. It clung to his words desperately squeezing out comfort from them. Hasn’t he gotten himself a wife, you foolish girl, my head said. But my heart shouted louder, why can’t he be yours, even if it’s just briefly? You will regret this! My head screamed but I didn’t listen still. As the day wore on, the alcohol made the voice of my head fainter and my heart was roaring. Very bad combination for a heartbroken girl in denial.
“You’ll be late,” the silky male voice beside me reminded me that Saturday morning. “You know she can be a real bridezilla if you keep her waiting.” He said this with a leery smile on his face. That feeling shot through me again and I didn’t fight it this time. In my time, I had done the figurative walk of shame a couple of times before, but this was the first time the guilt caused me real shame. I was going to the bathroom get ready to go and do the make-up for the bride whose groom still lay naked in my hotel room bed.