I met Aunty Kola through my mommy. She’s a sweet, soft-spoken, and very respectful Yoruba woman. Kola is not her real name. Aunty Kola was my mommy’s tailor. And by virtue of that, she also became my tailor and my grandma’s tailor. Aunty Kola was pretty good at sewing my mom’s and grandma’s clothes, but it was with my own clothes that issues always arose. I was also much younger then, so my style was not as defined as it is now, but even then, I knew that this could not be life.
The problem was not that Aunty Kola did not know how to sew, but that Aunty Kola always took it upon herself to help me change my style. Sometimes it was a mistake, and other times, she did it on purpose. The times that were mistakes, they were usually minor changes. Like she’d put a rope around the waist of my skirt, instead of a zipper like I told her I wanted. I never liked the ropes because no matter how I tied them, they always formed a visible knot and made my innie belly button look like a big outtie. However minor, it was still annoying because I reminded her every time that I did not want that damn rope.
The bigger issue with Aunty Kola’s sewing was that she was a born-again Christian, and usually, a person’s born again status should have nothing to do with the outfit said born again person is sewing for someone else, but this is Aunty Kola we’re talking about. What used to happen was that I’d give Aunty Kola my fabric, and I’d tell her exactly what I wanted her to sew., and Aunty Kola would agree, but she’d do something completely different.
By the time I go to collect my outfit, Aunty Kola would have sewn something different, and she’d say to me in her Yoruba accent, “See, hi epp you to sew hanother style. That one you chus is not good for a shide hof God.” (See, I help you to sew another style. That one you choose is not good for a child of God.”
Why didn’t I just provoke for Aunty Kola? Because I was much younger than I am now (and possibly more patient). Plus, she was my mommy’s person, and my mommy wouldn’t have been happy with me if I had yelled at Aunty Kola. Plus, she already sewed it anyway, so yelling wouldn’t have changed anything.
It’s been years since I’ve gone to Aunty Kola, but the other day, I went to her – but only because my grandma wanted to sew some clothes. Guess what Aunty Kola did? She helped my grandma change one of her styles. In her defense, the new style was nice, but it wasn’t what grandma asked for.