I was sitting on my reading table studying when Maureen, one of my friends walked in. I met her in my first year in the university when we were roommates. We shared the same bunk and soon became close friends. She was in her final year when we first met and was now a graduate.
“Bookworm, how far?” she greeted as she walked in smiling.
I looked up and smiled back at her. “I’m fine. Welcome!”
“You like reading too much. Lectures only resumed last week, so what are you reading? Leave this your book first. My aso ebi has arrived,” she said as she began to bring out some fabrics from a bag she was holding.
She continued, “There are three different colours. These two are for the traditional marriage. Then this one is for the white wedding. Choose anyone you want. 6 yards each for 25k.”
“25k? As in 25 thousand naira?” I asked in disbelief and shock.
“This is not Aba made. This is correct Indian lace. It’s even supposed to be 30k but I just want to pity my friends.”
I picked them up and looked at them as if I was I interested. But deep within me, I knew I had to rob a bank to get 25k.
“Shey you know you are one of my very close friends. So I want you to be among my bride’s maids. I’ll add you up to the Whatsapp group. But since I’ve already seen you, let me just give you some info that will be passed on the group chat. The bride’s maids are to contribute 20k for dress, shoe, hair, nails and makeup. Since you are part of the bridal train, there will be no need to buy aso ebi for the white wedding. So choose between these two colours of aso ebi.”
She showed me the two colours she wanted me to choose from.
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“Which colour of shoe are your bride’s maids wearing?” I asked.
“I have gold already. And I have weavon too that I just bought,” I said hoping that I wouldn’t have to pay for a new gold shoe and new weavon.
“I’m buying matching shoes. All my bride’s maids must wear the same design of shoe and fix the same hair. So you must pay the money if you want to be part of the bridal train,” Maureen explained.
“Okay. Shey the wedding is in May. This is March. There’s still time.”
“There’s no time again o. You know they need to start sewing the dress.”
“Okay. I’ve heard.”
“So which colour are you choosing?” she asked me.
“I’ll choose later,” I said.
“You know my house address. You can come pick it up when you are ready. I’ll add you to the group chat and paste my account number on the group chat. Let me allow you to read. Bye.”
She packed the fabrics into her bag and left. I sat down thinking about my conversation with Maureen. 25k for aso ebi plus 20k for bridal train is how much? Forty five thousand naira! Which kind of trouble is this? How do I tell Maureen that I can’t afford to pay for any of these?
I was still thinking of my predicament when Isabella, one of my close friends came in excited. Isabella had known Maureen through me when Maureen was still my roommate.
“Have you seen Maureen’s aso ebi?” Isabella asked sitting on my bed.
“Yes. She just left my room now,” I answered.
“Which colour did you choose?”
“I didn’t choose anyone.”
“Why na? You don’t like any of the colours?”
“I don’t have 25k.”
“So you will not wear aso ebi for the wedding. Hmm! I hope you are joking o.”
“I’m serious. I don’t have that amount of money.”
“Maureen is our very good friend. It won’t be nice if you don’t buy her aso ebi. She will feel bad.”
“Oya pay for me na. So I should buy aso ebi to make my friend happy and then starve afterwards. She will go on honeymoon and be enjoying with her husband and I’ll be here suffering. I don’t have 25k. Even that bridal train thing sef, the money is too much for me. But I will manage and pay. I don’t understand why bride’s maids have to pay for dress sef.”
“It’s your contribution to your friend’s wedding. If she was to provide everything for the bridal train for free, do you know how much it will cost her?”
“Okay, but must we buy new shoe, expensive weavon and the rest? And this aso ebi thing, must a bride do aso ebi?”
“It makes the wedding colourful. Plus it’s nice to have your friends supporting you on your big day.”
“Can’t we all just wear what we have and support her? Or make financial contributions based on our purse. Cynthia’s wedding is coming up soon, which means another aso ebi to buy again. Where will I get money from?”
“I wonder how you will feel if during your wedding, none of your friends agree to buy your aso ebi or pay for the bridal train.”
“Is it compulsory to do aso ebi? The most important thing is that I’m married and happy. Or if I’ll do it, I’ll give a colour code, and ask my friends to dress in that colour. Simple! If my colour is navy blue and you already have navy blue lace, then no need to buy another one except you want to. And besides, are there no cheaper fabrics?”
“Edidiong, you better step up your game o. You want to go and buy 1500 per yard lace? There’s something we call class. You can’t be dulling o,” Isabella said as she removed her shoes and rested her legs on my bed.
“How many people will even wear that aso ebi after that day? Some of these marriages don’t even last after all the money spent. I can understand paying money for the bride’s maids dress. But buying new shoe for every bridal train that I am in or buying aso ebi for every wedding is a waste of money.”
“You better look for money to buy the aso ebi. If you must borrow, then borrow. Maureen will not be happy if you don’t buy it. I’ve said my own.”
What do you think I should do? Should I borrow to buy the aso ebi? Would I be a bad friend for not buying my friend’s aso ebi?
End Note: This is a fiction story and episode 8 of #UduakObongStorySeries