What If

pensive African woman

I was 18 when we broke up; 18 years, 11 months and 29 days old to be precise. He attacked my weight again, I remember it like it was yesterday. The first time he did it, I can’t remember what we were talking about but arthritis came up and he said I should watch my weight or something like that. Basically, “you are getting fat”. That was the beginning of the end because come on, he knew how sensitive I was on the matter.

Well this time, I decided, would be the last. If all his love did was make me feel wretched, then it was pointless loving him. So I called it off. I knew he would come back, and come back he did. Suddenly, my weight was not an issue anymore.

Anyway this story is not about him. This story is about another ‘him’; the kind of ‘him’ that marks himself.  You know…right up there. He is like that scar you alone know of, the one you often find yourself fondly rubbing your hands over. The kind of scar that makes you smile. This story is about him.

I was 18 when I met him; 18 years, 11 months old to be precise. Funny how ‘met’ as a word is now very subjective, what with social media and its array of networks. I remember it like it was yesterday. I commented on something, he replied, I replied his reply, he replied mine…and we got talking. You know how you meet a guy and unconsciously compare him with your father, and oh the joy it brings when he checks every box. If you have your dad as a benchmark – Daddy’s girl club – you’d know exactly how I felt. Because this dude checked every box and moved on to circles.

We did not date, it was not practical considering the distance. But oh my, the chemistry, it sizzled hot and fierce on both sides. I had hit jackpot and boy, did I have plans! I would graduate at 22 and go on to Lagos Law School so we can officially be together. Then NYSC, settle in Lagos and live happily ever after with four kids; three boys and a girl in a big house with…well, we could work out the other details later.

Then I turned 20. They say when you get older you have more answers. If that is true, something must be wrong with my growth. My birthday that year came with a lot of ‘what ifs’ – “what if I only get into Law School in Abuja?”, “what if I am drafted for NYSC in Sokoto?”, “what if his genes are allergic to mine?”, and “wait oh…what if he does not feel the same way?” And in all of these ‘what ifs’, there were no answers.

I have always wanted to be mature, to really live in the 21st century as a 21st century woman. Gender Equality! If you like him, tell him, et cetera. Anyway, I told him how I felt. And in response, he officially asked me out. Not the answer I was expecting but an answer nonetheless. It felt nice at first. I finally could call him “baby”…aloud – oh yes, I used to say it in my head – and I could end the calls with” I love you”. But distance, the witch that she is, refused to let it be.

I couldn’t kiss him or hold his hands; we couldn’t touch each other or “touch” each other. No dates whatsoever – forget all that Skype. There were no eye to eye declarations of love or playful tickling that ends in bed with panting and sweating and no clothes on. Yes, we connected intellectually. Yes, relationships go beyond physical needs but…I don’t know, it just was not enough for me, for us. And so we broke up.

Looking back now, I think we just missed being friends that we did not work to actually be a couple. We became just friends again and yes it was awkward – going back from “hi baby” and “I love you” to “hey buddy” and “guy, pack well”. But we got over it. We were die-hard friends!

I told you the first one came back, right? Not my ‘jackpot’ now, I mean the first ‘him’ with the weight issue. Yes, he came back and became a good boy, always on his best behavior. He was safe and secure – no sizzles, no hot and fierce whirlwind of emotions. It was not the same as with my ‘jackpot’ but it was something good. I was not lonely, needy or desperate. So I settled.

Sometimes, I imagine what my life would have been with my ‘jackpot’. “What if I had waited and kept my mouth shut?”, “what if I had met him at another time, under different circumstances?”, “what if we had held on to each other just a little longer?” Even at 32, I still ‘what if’; like I said earlier, something is wrong with the way I grow.

Now I look across the table at my ‘best behavior’, and I look at the little one we conceived on one of those rainy nights when holiness flees and everything is possible. And I smile. Yes, I lost my ‘jackpot’ and I settled with my ‘best behavior’ but this right here…this little man in the high chair, gurgling cute nothings and trailing cereal all over his cherubic face, this is my pot of gold.

By Ezinma Ukairo.

Ezinma enjoys good music, food, books and movies. She is currently in her third year at the university where she is studying law so that she can promote the beauty of womanhood, and end child marriage and world hunger. Ezinma is afraid of ever having to just ‘settle’ in a relationship, but she keeps a closed mind to all the ‘unwanted stuff’ and continues to believe in love.

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The Lectern: A Message to Unmarried Men

As promised, Emmanuel Akaeze writes from ‘The Lectern’ this month on bachelor matters.

Are you single, dating, undecided, or both?

Are you male? Female?

Yes? Then read!

The Lectern01

…that we might be read

A MESSAGE TO UNMARRIED MEN

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Since most women are incapable of physical abuse, some have resorted to other forms, like economic, verbal and emotional abuse, etc. Young man, if you’re in a relationship or about to ask a woman out who is always talking about money, I advise you to think twice. Unless your surname ends with Trump, Gates, Dangote or Helu, or your father’s mother’s cousin’s son-in-law’s driver’s half-sister owns the Central Bank, you’re in for a rough ride.

If her interests are always in what you bought for her, how much money you gave her this month….she will bring you grief. This woman is a leech and will milk you to the last drop, then wring you, just in case there are some stray kobos left in your pockets, then she will air-dry and dump you. Abeg, borrow my favorite letters for this kind of situation – R. U. N!

Some women will so verbally abuse you that you’ll wish your mother’s womb could open up and take you back into its safe cocoon of innocence. She’s rude, sometimes vulgar, calls you all sorts of names, denigrates you, always compares you with your friends and she calls it – wait for it – “keeping it real.” I agree with her oh…the real thing is she’ll keep on and never stop. And unless you can tame the shrew, pack your load and move on!

If she always harps on a particular issue forever, repeating those words till they burrow inside your brain like itch-mites and you can recite them by heart, it’s called nagging. And from a nagger, methinks you should flee! Else, one day, you’ll either wake up in police custody with a murder charge on your head or realize that you’re a recurrent member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Please oga, in the name of all that’s sane and logical, don’t be with a woman who is still hung up on her ex. If a woman is always going on and on about how her ex, John was mean to her, cheated on her, and didn’t treat her right, bros, unless you’re her shrink and helping her work out her emotional problems, I suggest you pack your luggage and board the next available flight. She is definitely a citizen of Yesterday, living in Baggage House, on Regret Street. You will wake up one day to find a Dear John letter pinned to your pillow.

If a woman keeps telling you that all men are dogs, and how she hates all men except you, her “darling boo”, just know that network is bad and your matter is hanging. One day, soon and very soon, you will slip up on a tiny issue. Then her verdict will be delivered and you will join the long list of men in her life who are hated canines.

If a lady compares your relationship to that of Nneka, Sandra or Sade, just know that you’re nothing but a housemate in the ‘All-time Best Couple’ reality show…the only thing is you don’t know it yet. For this kind of woman, nothing you ever do with and/or for her is good enough, because one of her friend’s boo will definitely be better. In my opinion, you’re better off Keeping Up with the Kardashians than with this woman (and we all really despise that show, don’t we?)

My brother, have you met the NEVER DIVA? Like her name suggests, there are things she’ll never do because she believes they are a man’s, servant’s or professional’s job. She NEVER calls you. She NEVER buys you any gifts. She is NEVER emotionally available. She NEVER takes you out, NEVER offers to pay for half the meal. She NEVER apologizes. She is NEVER wrong. She NEVER compliments you. She will NEVER give up anything for you or the family. She will NEVER compromise. Bros, I can NEVER say this enough – NEVER hook up with this kind of woman.

I know one sister whose favourite song is ‘Just as I am, without one plea…’, only problem is she’s not singing the original gospel version. Like Mount Zion which cannot be moved, her favourite mantra is “you met me like this and so shall I always be!” She’ll never love you enough to compromise or change to make you happy, don’t kid yourself. It doesn’t matter if you own a boutique, her skimpy clothes will stay. Don’t bother enrolling her in evening school, her broken grammar will do just fine. That you’re an accountant that can help with financial advice on saving and investing makes no difference, her money is hers to throw away as she wishes.

I only have one question for you, guy, whence goest thou? I am sure I have by no means exhausted the list; the above are only the commonest I could think of, feel free to add more. Don’t be like Macbeth whose wife pushed and pushed till he broke.

By: Emmanuel L. Akaeze

Emma

Emmanuel is an avid reader, a creative writer, historian and public speaker, a Process Engineer by profession, Business Analyst by occupation. Still single, he lives and works in Abuja. His life philosophy implores you to “Change the way you think, change your life”

If you have written something which you would like us to read from ‘The Lectern’, send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are yet unsure about a subject matter but want to be read still, send me an email too and we can work up something appropriate for you.

Chisom

THIS THING CALLED…SUCCESS (1)

 

Because the muse hit in 2D, I’ve split this TTC post into two. This first leg is inspired by a sister’s post on her online forum where the issue was of successful women and why unhappy romantic relationships seem to be the price they pay for said success. A lot of people like to make this a ‘Just African men’ thing but for the purposes of objectivity, we’ll leave it open here.

For starters, ‘successful’ in this context refers to that woman who is clearly flying high. She’s at the top of her career, controlling power, fame and recognition, money and even men. And she is married to a man who by his bank account and social status, is not exactly Lazarus of the biblical Rich man parable but is neither Dr. Dre, post-Beats sale. They may not even be married yet; maybe the John is dating her, or wants to. Why is her success a turn-off?

Chimamanda Adichie in reference to her global success once said, “the type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in”. And I can hear the sisters whooping in the house. But wait. Take a chill pill – yep, I can be hippy too – and let’s really think on this.

Why do men run away from successful women?

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Scenario A:

Peter earns more than Mary who he is in a serious relationship with. Mary decides to change the dining table but Peter says, “No, baby, I can’t afford it. Plus do we really need a new table just to eat?”

So Mary lets it go. A few months later she gets hired by a multinational; her new pay package is higher than Peter could ever dream to earn even with two promotions. Three months into the job, she’s on a business trip in Mainz and sees this fancy oak-wood table which literally calls her name as she passes by. She purchases it with a few dainty chairs to boot; she has the whole set shipped home. The day it arrives, she does all the moving and redecorating herself; she is going to surprise her husband when he returns from work with ‘our shiny new dining room’.

Peter comes in, having had a harried time at the office – he really should burn some black candles on top of his boss’ picture. He has just reached for a cold bottle of water in the refrigerator when he sees the table, the chairs too – WHOA! He looks around him quickly – no one – and takes a second look. It’s one very VAAIIIRRYYY ugly table but it’s new – he touches it – EX-PEN-SIVE too. He turns around and Mary is standing there beaming at him…”SURPRIIIIISE!” She runs up against him, hugs him, pecks him, she’s gushing, “Babe, you like it? Come take a closer look…”

Peter sets her away from him very roughly, eyes reduced to irate slits of black. He flings the bottle of water against the wall and positively, literally, incandescently BLOWS UP!

“Did you not hear when I said I do not want a new table? What is wrong with you, woman?” – then – “SO BECAUSE YOU NOW HAVE SOME CHICKEN FEE TO SPEND, YOU THINK YOU CAN RIDE ALL OVER ME?”

THE END.

Okay PAUSE! Now, rewind. Not at the refrigerator, keep going. Go all the way to the beginning. Unhuh…wait! Too much, go forward a bit…there! Good, stop. PLAY!

 

Scenario B:

Peter earns more than Mary who he is in a serious relationship with. Mary decides to change the dining table but Peter says, “No, baby, I can’t afford it. Plus do we really need a new table just to eat?”

So Mary lets it go. A few months later she gets hired by a multinational; her new pay package is higher than Peter could ever dream to earn even with two promotions. Three months into the job, she’s on a business trip in Mainz and sees this fancy oak-wood table which literally calls her name as she passes by. She purchases it with a few dainty chairs to boot; she has the whole set shipped home. The day it arrives, she does all the moving and redecorating herself; she is going to surprise her husband when he returns from work with ‘our shiny new dining room’.

Peter comes in, having had a harried time at the office – he really should burn some black candles on top of his boss’ picture. He has just reached for a cold bottle of water in the refrigerator when he sees the table, the chairs too – WHOA! He looks around him quickly – no one – and takes a second look. It’s one very VAAIIIRRYYY ugly table but it’s new – he touches it – EX-PEN-SIVE too. He turns around and Mary is standing there beaming at him…”SURPRIIIIISE!” She runs up against him, hugs him, pecks him, she’s gushing, “Babe, you like it? Come take a closer look…”

Peter lets her drag him. He listens with a smile and nods obligingly in between sips of his water while Mary tells him all the special things about the table. She tells him it’s vintage ‘gold’, Pharaoh’s – yes, the very pharaoh of the Red Sea story – elephants were born under it and the legs are hollow so one can store spoons and plates. Peter is exhausted but he oohs and aahs while she hops all over the place, happy as a tot in a candy store. He waits for the perfect break in her gushing, for that lull in her commentary where she takes a breath then he butts in.

“It’s beautiful, darling”, Peter says. She beams. She knows, she says. Then he adds – quickly, “let me just take a bath and we can launch it, huh?” She beams again. Great.

He pecks her and zooms up the stairs, already tugging on his tie. Mehnnn, he thinks, that table is U.G.L.Y. He can’t believe how excited one person could get over one squat ugly table and a set of even uglier chairs. The image flashes in his mind, of her hopping one-legged, gushing excitedly over the absolutely hideous table, and he chuckles inadvertently. Kai!

THE END. No, really the end now.

So my take is that it’s all about attitude. And perception. Have man and woman risen to a level of maturity where material success doesn’t adversely change who they fundamentally are? Is the man able to realize that his partner is the same – faults and points, vices and virtues – whether she earns more or not. Is the woman able to be that – the same – even when her man’s pay is doorman’s tip compared to hers?

Your perception is the fine line. If she always hated cooking, then it is in character that she hire a cook or buy take-out on one too many nights, especially if her pay can afford it. You bore it bravely when she earned peanuts but you can’t stomach it now because she earns six figures? Now you only eat freshly cooked soup, nothing over 24hours-old!

If he always was loud and never stuck a finger past the kitchen doorpost, then it is within character that even when you’re overwhelmed by kitchen chores, he’ll be outside with ears plugged shut, mowing the same lawn he had mowed only the day before. When he paid all the bills, you thought it was ‘cute’ how he evaded any kitchen duties; but because you’re now a CEO, he’s being ‘childish, insensitive and domineering’. And it’s nerve-grating to you that men cannot stand a working class woman!

And there, successful ladies and gentlemen, is where the fabric starts to rip.angry couple

So what’s your take? What’s your opinion of This Thing Called Success, in the context of successful women and their less successful male partners? Click below in comments right now and Share!

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