Interestingly, this journal entry was made on 28 July 2010 which was almost exactly a year to our wedding as our wedding took place on 30th July the following year. By this time, though, the date, venue, and details of the wedding were in the relatively far off future and therefore still very unknown. I like this entry not only because of the coincidence of the date, but because it describes a special yet sort of mundane day, in the life of a young girl who was home in Nairobi for the holidays from her teaching job (then) in South Africa. A young girl who was only getting started on the process of getting married and the path that leads (led) to that, but one who was also now attending grown-up events like fund-raisings.
• Hey gal, always a pleasure reading from you. If I’ll be around, I will definitely be there with you. I’m so happy for you and Poriot. I wish you well.
o From Lynette 28 July 2010 @15.20pm
Thanks so much Lynette. This was her replying text. Lynette is my friend. I had just emailed and messaged them (my high school classmates) about the dowry ceremony which was to take place on Saturday 7th August 2010. I remember when I got this text from her I was standing outside Bata Hilton (a shoe shop outside The Hilton Hotel where people often agree to meet) in town, facing Kencom (another famous meeting point as it’s a landmark building), waiting for Mummy to come from work so that she and I could go to Garden Square for Uncle Gabriel (a relative)’s funeral fund-raising. It was nice to receive such a sweet supportive message from a friend. That’s why I saved it.
Today is also the day I tried on my first bridal gown. I did so at the Bridal Shop at Shopper’s Plaza in town. Aunt Linet- my mum’s sister- recommended it because she had gotten her wedding gown from there.
I tried on three dresses. The first was grand and Cinderella-like which is what I had always wanted- but it swallowed me up because I’m quite small (was, at the time).
The next one was pretty but had too many sequins and was just generally too busy.
I was not interested in a strapless dress but the third and final one looked gorgeous. It was strapless, figure-hugging, tied at the back like a shoe-lace, flowed like a mermaid at the bottom and had a sweetheart neckline. It looked absolutely fabulous. I had never seen myself look so…mesmerizing. It took me by surprise. Honestly. So this is what a bride looks and feels like. It was magical. I twirled and turned in front of the mirror as Lillian- the shop owner- and her two assistants told me how perfectly the dress suited me. I blushed. But I didn’t stay in the dress for too long, I didn’t want to get attached to it because our wedding is still far off, we need to do dowry first. And I need to see other dresses. But it was a really fun exercise and Lillian was very nice. Even if I don’t get my gown from her, I’ll get jewellery or shoes from her. She was there for both Aunt Linet’s and Aunt Hellen’s weddings (both my mum’s sisters) so she’s more like a family friend.
Later I told Mummy about the fitting and she said next time we must go together. Josephine, who will be my maid of honor, but is now in the US, also said I must Skype her next time I’m going for a fitting. I say Ditto to both of them. It will be fun to do it next year- closer to the date. I bought gold sandals from Lillian to wear on my Wupe/Goito (Dowry) day- they were slightly expensive but totally worth it because they are so pretty, dainty, dream-like and bridal. Also, one only has one wupe (dowry ceremony) so it’s okay to indulge a bit.
Mummy came (to Bata Hilton where I was waiting for her) and we walked to Garden Square. There we met Aunt Hellen, Mato, Aunt Linet, Aunt Mama Ade, Aunt Scholar (she jokingly said she must do catering for my wedding), Aunt Romana (who also now does catering) and other relatives including Jomba Tofili (Jomba is Uncle) who we hadn’t seen for long, he is Uncle Gabriel’s brother.
We left before the mchango (fund-raising) ended but it seemed like it would go well as there was a good turn-out. We also met Uncle Gabriel’s two oldest daughters, but Mghoi, his younger daughter, who I know from a few years back, wasn’t there. It’s interesting to see how people come together at Garden Square, and I’m sure at other venues too, but especially at Garden Square to condole with bereaved families, to plan weddings, fund-raisings for hospital bills, scholarship funds, and funerals. People do it out of love, out of duty, a sense of obligation and well, because that’s what is expected. You just support people. That’s how it is. Whatever the reason for doing it, it’s amazing because in a way, these short or sometimes long and elaborate meetings held after work and on weekends say You are Not Alone in Whatever You are Going Through, whether it’s a good thing or a sad thing. Garden Square Restaurant, near the KICC (Kenyatta International Conference Center). It works because it’s in town, and you only need to pay for the plastic chairs and a small tent and then those meeting can buy their own drinks and food. It’s convenient- though at times some groups have a microphone-and you don’t- so you end up having to shout to hear each other in your meeting. Garden Square- I can imagine how many plans and logistics have been shared here. How many people, families and individuals have left here feeling supported, loved, comforted, not alone.
Anyway so Mummy and I left for home having given our contribution. We went and lined up at the Double M (matatu) stage, got in after some waiting, and talked some more on the way home. There was ample time to talk thanks to the evening traffic which you don’t feel as much when you are chatting about this and that with your mother. I was happy that I had waited for her in town and accompanied her to the mchango. It’s always so fun to hang out with her. Love you Mummy. I hope you live very long, to see your grandchildren and great grandchildren. And most pertinently to go to fittings of wedding gowns with your daughter before giving her away.
– Thankfully, all the above came to pass and Mummy approved of the dress that her daughter settled on a year later. It was not a strapless mermaid gown, but it was magical and memorable. She also got to see the first of her grandchildren. And continues to attend funeral and wedding committee meetings and fund-raisings at Garden Square.