I haven’t written a post on any fashion related subject on this blog in I-don’t-know-how-long so it seemed fitting to do so with this……
No, it is not about an ultra chic homeless woman, quite the contrary; my trendy bag lady was homely and oh-so-chic!!
We met for the first time during a pilates class at a mutual friend’s gym. She was impossible to ignore; she made sounds akin to that of a beached whale in labour and was barely able to follow through on the exercises. She was positioned behind me and the whole time I kept wondering who this tortured soul was. After class, Oyinkan (later dubbed “Tweety” by both of us), the over energised gym owner/Pilates instructor, introduced us and much to my amazement she wasn’t whale-like in any way! She was a svelte pretty lady with  a mega watt smile. I couldn’t contain myself so I asked, ” Why are you taking this class?” and she answered in pure innocence, “I need to keep my tum under control” I almost went berserk!! What tum? She might as well have told me to hurl myself at plastic surgeon for liposuction…..Anyway, that’s how I met Ijeoma and we fast became close friends. We soon discovered that we shared similar interests in food, music, life’s values and even attended the same church.

Ijeoma’s Mega watt smile.

We would plan lunches, walks, breakfast hangouts and the like every now and again and it was always such a delightful time. One thing stood out though, Ijeoma loved to dress up and dress up stylishly! It wasn’t vulgar or in your face but she possessed some of the most exquisite bags and shoes!! Her bags were simply divine. Very dernier cri. I remember this teal Yves Saint Laurent patent tote she had, oh my! Oh my! But what I loved about her was that these items did not define her, she was not at all consumed by these fashion items, she just wore them with an ease that belied their value.
One day, on June 15, 2009, we met up after work for quick chat and as I approached her she started squealing in delight. I was stunned to say the least because I couldn’t imagine that she was that happy to see me. She was pointing excitedly at my bag and made off to her car; it was all very confusing to say the least. Then she re-emerged and there it was, we had the EXACT bag! Hers was grey and mine was cream coloured. It was a Reiss bag which my dad had given me as gift a few days before. I could not believe it. I started squealing as well! I know it sounds silly but I felt like having the same bag as she did validated my sense of style.

Our Reiss “sister” Bags

We promptly took pictures of the sister bags (which we named – thankfully I cannot remember their names 🙂 ) and I sent the picture to a friend, Lebari, who had gushed over my bag earlier. It was a bonding moment indeed.

My Email to Lebari announcing my latest discovery

Whoever said that lightning does not strike the same place twice , clearly knew nothing of my and Ijeoma’s shared affinity for all things pretty and shiny.
This time we were having a church organised ladies’ hangout at Tweety’s gym and since I arrived late, I missed Ijeoma who had made a quick appearance and rushed off to another engagement. So I sauntered in toting my latest prized possession; a Ted Baker bag.
Please allow me to explain how I happened upon this piece of deliciousness. My best friend and I were on vacation in the UK, Birmingham to be precise, and in our usual fashion we took the main mall there by storm (a topic for another post). The Bull Ring is not a mall for the faint hearted; it is huge and teeming with more shops than any human being should have to contend with. But you see, for Moji and I, it was just the perfect natural habitat for us. So we wove our way in and out of stores, leaving destruction in our wake, our respective bank accounts would testify to this and then we were in Selfridges. This is where it gets a little hazy for me, all I remember is staring across the shop floor at the Ted Baker section and seeing this glint of pink gold and black patent beckon to me. I stood transfixed as I took in the silhouette of this glistening temptress. Moji came over as I pointed wordlessly at this item that I KNEW I HAD to HAVE and I made my way over to the shop attendant who was ever so helpful as she allowed my caress the bag. She told me how it was part of the new collection and had just come on the shelf that morning. I knew in that moment that I was taking the bag home with me. She told me the cost which lifted my dreamy haze for a minute but I quickly reached into my wallet and paid for it regardless of the hefty dent it was inflicting on my finances…….
Back at the hangout, I got settled and stowed my bag safely away from the path of any dribbles or spills and then Tweety pops up and says, “You have to be kidding!”, “Ijeoma just left with the same bag but hers was green!” Then she adds in that high-pitched Tweety tone of hers, “Both of you are not serious!” I couldn’t believe it! Again?! What were the odds?! I racked my brain, I remember seeing the orange, beige and grey version of the bags in the shops but green? Only Ijeoma could manage that. So after our soiree I gave Ijeoma a ring and told her about our second happy fashion coincidence and she couldn’t believe it either! We agreed that a rendez-vous would be in order so that the bags could meet and acquaint themselves with each other.

Our Ted Baker “sister” Totes

We did meet up eventually and sure enough, we had the same bag, we were tickled pink to say the least. She relayed the tale of how as she rushed through Heathrow to catch her flight home, she went past the Ted Baker shop in the duty-free section and the bag caught her eye. She stopped, bought it and raced on to the plane. I understood her reaction and decision completely!!!
We shared many other memorable non-bag related moments…….but our bag moments were one of a kind.
Even though you are no longer here with us, you will always be cherished…..I miss you so much my dear friend……..Till we meet again……..Rest in peace. ….
NOTE: My friend Ijeoma was one of the hundreds of people killed by the ill fated Dana flight 992 of June 3, 2012; there were no survivors.
Just two days before she had called me to assure that she would come visit me and my baby (who had been born a few months earlier)……the visit never happened.
She was a truly beautiful human being and she left quite a legacy of love and kindness and of course wise counsel. What will you be remembered for?
Live. Love. Learn

11 replies on “My Trendy Bag Lady

  • jos

    Read this article in the middle of the night and chuckled. Woke up chuckling and sent the article to everyone. Got to share an awsome conversation with IJ’s sister about the article that made us realise we all had different moments with her. It has made me stop missing the fact that i didnt have a lagos moment with her and instead relish the fact that I had plenty of london moments with her. Best of all i thank God she introduced us. she really would be smilling lile a cheshire cat that got the cream.. As we say Live – Love – Learn

    • nkemdilim

      My darling Joss Stone, I am so happy that this post brought laughter to you. I just know that we were meant to be friends and can’t wait for us o grow our relationship. “mama Ijay” will have it no other way xoxo

  • Pamela

    So uncunning, she picks out her friends even in fashion……..Ijay was definitely one of her own kind…..a refreshing piece ……..my trendy bag lady

  • jos

    Need to share one or two comments I received. I am sure my friends wont mind
    — Very well written!!! Love, love love it.
    — Just read it………..yeah, that’s sounds just like Ijeoma!! Lovely article…..she lives on in our hearts……so many happy memories
    — I started to read this and just couldn’t finish. These same bags had been the topic of many of IJ and I’s discussions…miss her dearly…our fashionable friend.

  • Bernadine Coker

    How quintessentially Ijeoma!!! What a great piece Nkem, so well written. Scintillating!! A worthy homage indeed…….you captured Ijeoma in a way that all who knew her well can completely identify. Thank you so much for sharing . Bernadine

  • Paula

    awwww,nice!!!!…This is a good one Nkem….
    I never knew Ijeoma,but from all you have said,i believe she really was an interesting person….Keep it up Nkem! 😀

  • themusingsofmoe

    Nice piece m’bebe. Ijeoma was indeed a priceless gem and a gift to her generation. We comfort ourselves in the hope that we will see her again someday soon at the master’s feet. Her life remains a message to us all, and my prayer is that we all live ours to the fullest, so when we leave, at least some lives would have been touched. Keep writing my love…


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