20 July 2013

Always a Bridesmaid: Hausa Style, Part III

The beauty of the human race is that there are certain threads that weave through all of us.  Despite color, creed or culture there are commonalities we share.  As women we are all mothers and daughters, sisters and friends.  We are the same at the core . . . but it is the texture of these relationships that sets us apart.

It is the delicate details of culture that define the fabric of these roles.  And B&E have been my tour guides through this journey of learning what friendship means in Hausa.
Weeks before the wedding, I was attending a groomsmen meeting . . . as a representative of both sides of the bridal party.  Two other girls had come to help me present a list of financial demands to B. and his posse.  

The week leading up to the wedding would be filled with special events for the bride and her besties and this would require a good chunk of change.  So, as is customary here, the first offer overshot by about double.  

The ensuing ping-pong match of figures, sarcasm and bartering was hysterical as an outsider only catching about 1/3 of what was actually being said.  In the end, the girls were offered not quite half of what they had asked for.

By the time we were ready to head off the salon, the bride and her maids were left holding 6,000cfa . . . about $12US.  This wouldn't be enough . . . the bride's hairdo alone would cost at least four times that, plus we all had to squeeze into taxis to get across town and back a few times, plus breakfast the next morning and a whole lot of minor forgotten details in between.

I pulled E. aside and offered to contribute a little more to the pot.  

'Déborah!  Kai!' she said in disbelief.  In the two and a half years that we've been friends, I think I've only heard that tone twice.  She wasn't offended by my offer, but had I insisted, she would have been.  

'How about if I pay for the taxis??'  Again with the 'Déborah's and the 'Kai!'s . . . she wouldn't hear of it.  I thought for a second of what I could do to help my friend in a way that she would accept.

'Okay, what if I call the BoyWonder and ask him to come with the car and pick us up?'  She accepted.  

My colorful rubber bands matched the confetti caught in my eyebrow.
From that moment on, we were part of the taxi-fleet.  For the next 24 hours, the way to be a friend was to use my material resources to help.  She didn't want my money . . . she wanted my friendship.  I was there with her, thinking of what I had that would make a difference for everybody, and that was what was important.

The morning of the wedding, our car was decorated with toilet paper streamers and we became part of the entourage sent to fetch the bride.  We were six from Galmi already in the SUV, and then we squeezed in another five or six uniformed Nigerien ladies.

Off we went.

With T., the World's Best OT Student
When I first saw the dress E. had chosen for us girls I knew I'd never live it down with my fellow westerners.  The sample was fuchsia (ours would be baby-blue) . . . and looked like a mermaid.  Possibly the lowest cut dress I've seen in Niger, with gathers between the sisters that resembled a pair of Ariel's shells.  The rest of the top was tight and short.  The skirt was skinny-jean tight down to just-above-the-knees, where it flared out, flipper style.  There were gathers tucked into the skirt, mimicking a sea-monsters scales.  

I had lifted the skirt and said to E., 'I'm going to need two of these.'
I cannot begin to tell you the relief I felt when my tailor brought me her version of my dress.  Turns out nearly all of the dressmakers had strayed from the original and personalized it a bit.  Knowing how I feel about accentuating certain parts of my figure, my tailor modified the model and it was a perfect fit up top.  She also kept the skirt a little loose . . . which, while keeping me from dressing up like The Little Mermaid, resulted in me looking a bit like Cinderella wrapped in a mattress.

Oh the things we do in the name of friendship!


Joyful said...

Sounds like a lovely wedding. I think the wedding party photo is wonderful and the bride and groom look so "handsome" together. Just beautiful.

Chrissy said...

So beautiful! :-)