By Obinna Chukwuezie
In Nigeria, men do not wear engagement ring. The ladies do, irrespective of who did the purchase or where the purchase was made. I know this practice differs in some context, depending on their historical experiences.
Engagement ring is such a big issue now, such that some ladies define a man’s commitment to them based on issuance of one. In fact, engagement ring is the society’s proof and evidence that a girl has been ‘taken’ by a man.
However, it is only a lady who is in possession of an engagement ring that knows if she is engaged by a man or she engaged herself by herself. On the other hand, when a lady wears it, her man believes that she has accepted to marry him, and no one else. How true this is, can be seen as I take you through this piece of writing.
Indeed, I want to observe here that one of the things my writings does is to help my readers to rinse their mind and gain another perspective. I do it creatively and humourously. I always write about the things that happen around me daily, and there are quite a lot of them, including the wedding ring drama which I hope you will enjoy in this piece.
It was a big surprise to me recently, when I attended a religious service in one of the youth-friendly worship centres. Mid-way into the excitement-filled service, the moderator announced that it was “testimony time”. Behold, a tall, slim and pretty girl, probably in her early thirties danced forward and backward to the admiration of all of us present, alongside her friends who came also to share with her in her joy. No doubt, her joy knew no bounds as she displayed it rhythmically in every way possible.
The dance which emanated from all parts of her body was so dramatic such that I became anxious to hear “what God has done” to this visibly excited lady. Even the moderator’s beckon on the lady to pause the dancing and share with the congregation her joy fell on her deaf ear. Now I became more curious than ever to hear what the lady has to say. Suddenly, there was silence, then everyone seated in the hall was all ears.
Now she began, dangling her left arm intermittently in the air for everyone to behold. She narrated how her boyfriend slotted the silver-coated engagement ring in her third finger three days before that Sunday, after waiting for eight years, and having being jilted by several men. Not able to contain her joy, she continued her dance and the drummers obliged and all of her supporters joined. So, the tempo increased.
Esteemed readers, if you do not know, then know it now that an engagement ring is an invaluable treasure in possession of a Nigerian lady, no matter the size, shape, colour or the prize. Many girls look forward to it, not all.
When any lady who covets it gets it, she adorns it in her third finger and flaunts it all around to those who care to observe. She dare not step out of her house without it. She sleeps with it as well as takes her bath with it. She feels yonder whenever you compliment her ring or her new status. She uses the ring to ward off men who attempts to woo her. Sometime, she uses it for show off or emotionally victimize other ladies who do not have the ring.
As the lady’s dance continued in the church, some thoughts began to filter my mind: if this lady could dance this way because she got an engagement ring, what will happen when she gets a wedding ring? Is she alone in this kind of drama?
Why is her engagement ring such a big issue?
If you watch Nigeria home movies (Nollywood), you will see how engagement rings are given to most ladies by their boyfriends in Nigeria. It goes thus: the boyfriend will kneel down with dimmed eyes, while clutching his girlfriend’s stretched left arm. At some point, he will ask his girlfriend to close her eyes until he asks her to open. So, the girl turns “blind” and keeps waiting until her instructor–boyfriend slots a pair of ring in her third finger, and then ask her to open her eyes. Bewildered, the girl will begin to shed “tears”. Hear her, “I can’t believe this is happening to me,” even when it was the reception of the ring was the beginning and end-it-all of her dream. If you are married, would remember your reactions when you gave or received your engagement ring?
From my finding, from the day that a lady received her engagement ring, another chapter of her life has been opened. At each point, she will remind those who care to listen that she is engaged with the attendant flaunting of the ring. She raises her hands up even when it is not needed just to attract attention to the shiny round metal object. The way she walks changes too, so also her accent and manner of appearance. In her room, she keeps it in a conspicuous location-her priceless possession! Some ladies engrave the name of their “fiancé” on the ring to spice the drama or show their allegiance. Sometimes, the ring turns a lady to mumu (a Nigeria derogatory name for someone who has lost his/her mind).
I don’t know which title best suits my piece; celebrating the engagement ring? Adoring the engagement ring? Well, I leave you to choose because you alone know what engagement means to you!
Does it really matter if yours is gold, silver, and platinum-plated? Does engagement ring mean marriage-guarantee? NO! In fact, I met a group of ladies in a conversation about a week ago, and when I asked each one, “have you got any engagement ring?” Their responses were funny; one said I have three, the other said five, the other said eight and so forth. It is quite instructive that each ring came from different man, some of whom are married. Funny enough, one of the ladies, asked me to help them get buyers for their “engagement rings”. So, if you need one, please let me know because I have 20% commission on each sale.
One of the girls told me that she wore her own for a year and when she was tired of being asked, “when is the wedding coming up?”and at the end, the wedding never came. Her own ring is up for sale too.
To my greatest amazement, these days, some ladies buy the ring for themselves, especially if they have appointment with a man who they do not want to woo them. Some ladies buy it to show other ladies, that men could ask them to marry them too. Some ladies buy and wear it to emotionally commit their boyfriends to the relationship. The religious ones wear with by faith, hoping that their man will come by fire or force. There is a little confusion here: Now, we don’t know which engagement ring is real as it is worn for different purposes by different ladies. However, the truth remains that not all girls who wear engagement ring are engaged. Some engaged themselves.
Again, not all girls who do not wear rings are “free”. Some ladies who are engaged do not wear ring because they are not the jewelry-freak or they do want to be sure that the man is truly serious about marriage before wearing them. Some ladies who are engaged intentionally remove the ring from their finger when they see a man who they want to mingle with. I witnessed such instances during my NYSC orientation camp. Some ladies pretended to be free, but we knew they were engaged from the mark the ring gave them around the base of their third finger. It is easy to notice. as the ring spot is usually lighter than other part of the finger.
I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the engagement rings are valued more than the wedding ring these days. This is because even when some ladies eventually get the wedding ring, they still do not part with the engagement ring. They wear both rings together on same finger. One married lady, Cynthia told me that she wears both to show the world that she was “engaged to before she was married.” But who cares if you were engaged to before married or married before engaged? She admitted that wearing two pair of rings in a finger oftentimes brings discomfort and hurts the nerves, but she will never give up on it. I don’t know where the practice of wearing both the engagement and wedding ring originated from? Is it a Nigerian ladies thing? Another lady, Ijeoma said she wears both as she uses the engagement ring to block the wedding ring from falling off her slim fingers.
Wearing the engagement ring could be an advantage or disadvantage for a lady depending on the motive of the giver. Unfortunately, the ladies care less about the motives of the men who does the giving of the engagement ring in Nigeria. Some men with good intention, who give engagement ring, simply refer to the act as mere demonstration of “ownership”. To them, the ring implicitly mean, “hey men, this lady is no longer available for you.” By this inscription on the ladies’ finger, those men who admire her before begins to retreat. Fresh admirers are totally discouraged or thread courteously to avoid being embarrassed. But again, can ownership be truly exemplified by the offer of an engagement ring? I think NO! Bride price and wedding does. Again, is an engagement ring a proof of commitment? I think NO! Our parents and grandparents never used it but they meant every bit of their words to each other. Many of the rings are given to given out of insecurity, not in readiness for marriage.
However, some men who have the wrong intentions use the ring to blind-fold the lady and fool her around. In this case, the lady innocently scares other eligible prospective suitors away with the ring. The men with the wrong motives use the ring as tool for deceit of unsuspecting and desperate ladies. They use it to break the ladies resistance and later jilt her. Ladies are often the vulnerable because when the wait appears to be endless, the ring is not a pleasant memory. Ladies, you need to think twice if and when you need to wear engagement ring? Do you think you can stand the risk? For now, I’m not ready to sell your rings.
I met a guy while shopping some days back; he bought about a dozen of engagement rings. I accosted him and asked him if he sells them? He smiled, and at that point, I knew he is one these guys who give the engagement ring, raises the hope of a lady and crash it. I have an advice for such guys, you might need to think twice if she is your sister or daughter, and would you be excited about to subject them to the traumatic experience?
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