The sewing machines in Bella’s Fashion School buzzed as trainees put their feet to the pedestal, producing a brilliant cacophony within its walls.
Biodun was the newly admitted trainee and she was catching up quite well. She now knew firsthand that making dresses went beyond just putting scissors to fabric. There was a demand on one’s mental aptitude as well. She was intensely studying her senior colleagues at work. They were sewing, cutting, drawing, ironing, among various other things. But studying them was the limit of her abilities since she only recently graduated from making stitches on paper. There was more to her ability actually: glorified errand girl.
That job was almost more than enough. She delivered completed dresses, went to the market to purchase materials though she was accompanied by a senior trainee, she laundered stained fabrics and other minor tasks. Besides the errands for her madam, there were the errands by bureaucracy distributed among junior trainees. She bore the brunt since she was the last in.
Biodun’s head was aching so much it felt like her brain-pan was hosting a concert. The half hour she spent under the hot sun trying to purchase onion-purple and butter cream coloured linens was probably taking its toll. The noise from the running machines was not helping either.
“Biodun, drop those clothes. There’s a delivery you have to do right now. Two actually. Mabinu dear, it won’t take long. You can even have the rest of the day off”, Madam Moni called.
Biodun dropped the fabric she was trying to organize from its messy pool on the ground and went to answer her Madam. If her colleagues were a little more organized, she’d probably have less needless work to do.
Her Madam’s kindness made Biodun a little hesitant to complain about being seemingly overworked. Besides, her mum had had to beg Madam Moni to take her on because registration for that season was closed.
“This royal blue dress is for Mummy Toyosi and the sky blue one is for Mummy Dami. Their houses are not far apart.”
“Alright ma”, Biodun replied, though she didn’t quite need that last piece of information.
Numerous errands had empowered her with the knowledge and her colleagues’ gossip provided other bits and pieces of useful information. Like the two customers’ profile. The two women had a love-hate relationship that fed her Madam’s pockets handsomely since they each tried to outdo the other in keeping up with latest fashion styles. Nobody was complaining. Rumour had it that the women had been rivals since they could speak. They’d attended the same schools from infancy, graduated from the same college and at one point even dated the same guy. One would think they would have become good friends since they went way back. But it was what it was.
She didn’t quite get to their homes before she saw them afar off – in an argument. No surprise there. She approached cautiously and greeted to draw their attention.
Their faces lit up like Christmas trees since they knew the purpose for her visit. She handed their dresses to them and they unwrapped them. Biodun was waiting for them to preen with satisfaction as each held up her dress but she saw their smiles fall to the ground instead. What was wrong?
The two women suddenly faced each other and eyed the other’s dresses suspiciously.
Oh no, no, no. Please, no. Biodun had a rough idea what caused their shocked silence but she had to ask anyway. One had to be sure that the implied tragedy wasn’t a trick of one’s imagination.
“What is the problem, ma?”
The question seemed to break the ice and they pointed at each other’s dresses with as much dissatisfaction as the human face could express, combined with anger and accusation, and said simultaneously, “That was the style I picked!”
Biodun could not describe the pain she felt at the confirmation of her thoughts. Her head began to pound with increasing intensity. The error was inconceivable. Where was her Madam going to begin correcting her mistake from? Mummy Toyosi was as fat as Mummy Dami was thin and the latter was as tall as the former was short.
Talk about entanglements and undesired dreams. This one would probably top the list.