‘ The Groom Wore Jeans…’ by Shade Raimi-Biggar



I remembered the day I got married as if it was yesterday. It was the most romantic and beautiful day of my life! I had looked forward to this marriage for so long…I wore a lovely white ensemble, and the groom…well the groom wore…Jeans!

Apart from the groom wearing Jeans, everything I have said in the first paragraph is totally untrue! It was not the most romantic day of my life, infact it was quite the opposite…I had not looked forward to it for so long, I couldn’t have, considering we got married about four months after meeting each other(though my husband insists he heard my very distinct voice in a dream when he was fourteen, but let’s not go there now…), oh yes, there’s one more truth…I did wear a white ensemble…a long flowing Indian outfit, for want of a better word, with gold beads worked into the bodice, which I only saw the day before, but it was nice…or let me say I liked it, and so did Tom!

Tom and I frst encountered each other on a site in Victoria Island, Lagos, where we were both working. He had been commissioned from Abidjan, and me from Lagos. The day we met, the first thing I noticed about Tom were his legs (he was wearing shorts), they weren’t spectacular, but because most people in Nigeria prefer to wear trousers, long sleeved shirts, three piece suits etc., in the heat, he kind of stood out. He was also reading a very interesting book, and this started up a conversation between us…alright Tom, I also noticed your lovely blue eyes, nice enough body…and so on and so forth!

He wanted us to get married right away, I was skeptical…I believed there must be something wrong with him, what was the rush? Maybe he was a psycho, wanted by those gendarmes they have in Francophone countries! Being a very private person when it comes to relationships, I decided to spring a suprise visit on my Pop, in Abeokuta, I knew that my father being basically a fair person would give me an honest opinion. For this maiden visit to his future father-in-law, Tom again wore shorts…but then that was the extent of his wardrobe at the time…T-shirts, a couple of short sleeve shirts, several pairs of shorts, and two pairs of jeans!

My father took one look at his bare knees, spoke with him for fifteen minutes, and said ‘Shade, let me know how you all want to do it, I give you my full support!’…now I was really worried! How could my father, who used to be so fussy and protective of us, just agree to me marrying somebody he had only just met? I had to ask…and his response was this…’I have spoken to him, and he seems sincere, his nature shines forth, if he had come to me in a suit, I would not have given my consent so readily, for I would have seen it as an act of deceit, as if he was trying to impress me, playing to the gallery…this is the real him, if you are ok with him, I am ok with him…it is that simple.’

So there we were on our wedding day…Tom in jeans, Shade in whatever…at the registry.We invited ten people to the registry, over thirty showed up, it was supposed to be lunch for twenty, at The Diplomat, we had over one hundred guests! Small for a Lagos wedding, too large for what we had planned…it was alot of stress, hence it not being ‘the most beautiful day of my life’, but all in all a good time was had by all! So, how is this related to anything, you all want to know…

We got to Ikemba’s Queen’s drive residence, later that afternoon, to ‘Break Kolanut’, and I know some people are trying to link Nnewi to Abeokuta…or Trinidad at least! Anyway, in his speech, Ikemba said one thing that I will always remember, very similar to what Dad had said in Abeokuta…he said ‘Tom it was nice of you to wear long trousers, even if they are jeans, I thought you would get married in shorts!’…of course we all laughed!!

It was a beautiful day! I actually had alot of fun, I wasn’t the conventional bride, and he wasn’t the conventional groom…he carried me away over the horizon( in a red Ford Escort)…and we lived happily ever after…right? Not right…but not too wrong either…and here is why; this compressed narration of my wedding is not meant to be about a romantic encounter, it is supposed to contain wisdoms or truths if you prefer, which if examined from different perspectives, can help us along the path of self-improvement towards living a more successful life. Let us briefly examine some of the issues that arise from this ‘love story’:

1. Even though this was not the case for me, I didn’t have time to plan at all(neither wedding of life after it!), most people plan their weddings with more enthusiasm, and attention to detail than they plan their lives. Women are especially guilty of this. Even before they have met Mr. Right, they have designed the type of invitation cards they will have, they know the style of dress they will wear, the venue for the occassion, and who they will or will not invite! But they do not have a 12 month personal goal set written on paper! Many are actually locked up in the illusion that someone is going to come along and organize their lives for them…

2. ‘His nature shines forth’. As one grows older, this observation by Dad, takes on new meaning. The importance of being yourself cannot be over emphasized, there is only one you, and as the saying goes ‘You were born An Original Don’t Die A Copy!’ It is imperative that we BE that which we were meant to be. We need to constantly examine ourselves, the lives we are living, our plans, our relationships. We must not change our essential core for the sake of others or for society or even because of our religion. Many people today are chronically unhappy. Many cannot even remember who they really are. Get a piece of paper, and a pen (yes again!), and write down who you really are…who you know you are in your heart of hearts. Do not show it to anyone! Check the differences, are there are any between who you pretend or are percieved to be, and what you wrote…decide to be true to yourself today. Come on, give yourself a break! Then shred the paper and throw it away…or eat it…that’s meant to be a joke! However while being ourselves we must take other people’s feelings and rights into consideration, within limits of course…kind of like swapping ‘ the shorts for the jeans’, not neccessarily a three piece suit!

3.On the ‘I thought you would get married in shorts’. Predictability is not neccessarily a virtue, indeed it could even get you killed. Many of us have fitted into the mold we were put in by other people, and this is not a positive thing. Many are living out the roles that were given to them by their parents, their teachers, their spouses, by society etc. Many have been told ‘You can’t do this’, ‘You will not amount to anything’…and they have proceeded to prove those people right. Of course you can, you will and you must… ( this would have been the place to insert my ‘You Can Do It’ slogan, but I don’t want to kill it!!)

I read that the average parent criticizes his or her children as many as eight times before he or she praises them. Wow! And these are modern statistics, so you can imagine back in the day, when our parents were slightly (very) ignorant as to the effects of negative affirmations, especially in African culture…it must have been as many as one hundred times, that is if they ever praised you! However, the good news is WE know better, and we must affirm positive things to our children and wards as well as to ourselves. I stand in front of the mirror EVERYDAY, and tell myself, very loud ( @ Tom and the children, I will try and keep it down!) ALL the good things about me, and they are several!! The other things…well, those I just whisper to myself, and work on changing them…Do I hear an AMEN!!

4.The last point is on ‘How To Stay Married’…, I think I will leave that to NabouLove! Even if I pretended to write about that, I would want you all to call me and tell me to ‘SHUT UP’!! Do I know what will be up with me tomorrow? I will not even go there…not at all! But I do know Today…and that is all I need to know because that is all there is. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set goals or plan for the future. Your Goals must be immovable (kind of like in football guys!)…but your means and ways of attaining them should be flexible…not rigid!
Do something new towards your goals everyday, no matter how small…see you on top!!!and remember…

YOU Can Do It!
You CAN Do It!!
You Can DO It!!!
You Can Do IT!!!!

P.S Note the emphasis on the different words…feel free to shout out ( and obviously don’t say ‘You’, say ‘I Can Do It’!!)…but be considerate of your neighbours!!!


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