I’m a maker of wedding dresses. I own a studio in a very busy place in Accra. I wouldn’t call myself the best but those who have worked with me have had little to complain about. And from the little research I’ve done about my customers, most of them got to know me through a referral from someone who had worked with me before.
So, I wasn’t surprised when one night I received a call from Canada, from a lady who wanted me to make her wedding dress. She said, “I’ve heard about your good works and I trust you could do the same for me.”
She sent a lot of styles to me through Whatsapp. She wanted a wedding gown and also wanted me to do something for her six maids of honors. “The wedding is just six weeks away,” she said. “So I want you to give me your best shot.”
A week later, she was in Ghana. She came to my studio with one of the ladies who was going to be the maid of honor. We spoke a lot about what she wanted and I made a lot of sketches just to be sure I’m getting the right concept. When we started discussing the dresses for the maid of honors, the lady she came with suggested a different style.
So the bride-to-be took her phone and started showing us different styles she had saved in her phone’s gallery. She kept scrolling through the photos until something caught my attention. I told her; “Wait…wait…wait, go back a little let me see something.” She went a few scrolls back and I said, “Yes, that’s it!” She said, “Oh that’s one of the pre-wedding shots we had yesterday.” I asked with obvious anxiety in my voice; “Is he the man you’re getting married to?” She responded, “Yeah, that’s the one. You know him?”
It took me several seconds before I could answer that. She looked at my face and kept repeating; “Do you know him?” “Of course I know him!” I said in my head. But I looked into her eyes and said, “Oh nah, he looks like a guy I know.”
Actually, the guy I saw in the pre-wedding shoot was my boyfriend. Just a day before that day, I was with him in the evening and the morning before that lady came to my studio, I was with him on the phone talking about his sick mother. Now he was in a photo with another woman as a soon-to-be groom.
I couldn’t concentrate. My mind was spinning. All of a sudden it felt like I was experiencing vertigo. I couldn’t sit and I couldn’t stand. If those two ladies had any care, they would have realized something was wrong with me somewhere but they didn’t because all they cared about was their dresses.
As soon as they left, I called him; “Hello Nelson, can I see you this evening?”
“Errm, you know I told you about my mother’s health. After work today I would go and see her”
“I want to see you so we can go and see her together”
“Hmmm, that wouldn’t be necessary. It’s going to be a mini family thing and you’ll be left out.”
I got the drift. The girl was in town so he was finding any other means possible to avoid me. I wasn’t going to allow that. So that night I went to his house thinking I was going to meet them there but they weren’t there. I called his phone. He never picked. He didn’t respond to my messages too. I sat in front of his door till daybreak. He didn’t come home that night.
I kept calling and he kept avoiding my calls so I sent him a text message; “I saw your wedding photoshoots yesterday. I know the woman you are getting married to just returned from Canada. I know too much for you to play this game with me. Ask her where she’s sewing her wedding dress and then call me.”
Less than five minutes later my phone rang. Nelson.
He was panting as if someone was after him; “Grace, please listen to me. I’m begging you in the name of the lord. I’m on my knees, please don’t say anything to her. I would see you this evening so we talk about it.” I asked him, “You’re getting married in the next six weeks. When did you intend to inform me?” He was stuttering. He wasn’t even making sense.
In the evening we met. I sat there watching his stupid face and thought of all the lies he was planning to tell me. He started; “I was dating her before she traveled. We lost contact and I thought it was over. That was when I met you. A year ago we got connected and she said we should marry. I didn’t want to but she knew my parents so she discussed with them and they started putting pressure on me to marry her.”
He couldn’t even tell a better lie. I was dying on the inside but I managed to smile. I gave him the opportunity to tell the girl about us. That was the only way I was going to forgive him. I told him, “If you don’t tell her, I’m going to her myself and you wouldn’t like the story I will tell her.”
We parted. I came home and cried my heart out. I spoke to a few people I trusted and they all said I should confront the girl with the truth and also stop making her dress if it hurts me so much. I listened to them but I had another plan.
Nelson called several times each day, pleading that I should not let his wife-to-be know. He kept talking about how I’ll jeopardize their future and how it wouldn’t solve the pain that had already been caused. He was talking about his future. How about mine?
Three days to the wedding, the lady came to the studio with three of her maid of honor to try out their dresses. They were all cheers and joy till I hit them with the news; “I haven’t done any of the dresses.” She looked at me as though she didn’t hear what I said the first time. I repeated, “I haven’t done it. Sorry I didn’t tell you earlier. I thought Nelson will tell you.”
“Who? Nelson? You know Nelson? And he knew this all this while and he didn’t tell me about it?” She asked. I didn’t answer those questions. Seconds later she was on the phone with him. It got heated. Obviously the lady was lost and trying to find answers. She gave me the phone that I should talk to him. I respectfully declined. She screamed, “What the hell is going on here?”
Nelson told her he was on his way coming. That was all I wanted. As they all waited for the arrival of Nelson, I took my time and explained the whole story to them. The maid of honors couldn’t close their mouths. They kept asking me if I was serious or I was sent. The lady couldn’t sit or stand just like what happened to me the day I found out.
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Soon Nelson was there. I told him; “You couldn’t tell her so I did it myself. I told her about us.” That was when the three other girls started filing out. The girl couldn’t believe it. They argued. The girl kept insulting him and calling him all manner of names. Nelson couldn’t say a word. He stood there shaking and worn this angry look as if he was going to fight with someone. The girl left and he followed her.
Three days later, they got married. The lady left for Canada shortly afterward. Over a year later, they were divorced. I learned it wasn’t because of me but due to irreparable differences. Whatever that means, I’m glad I said my truth and the truth set me free.