Saturday, June 9, 2007

"Marriage. So?!"

Everybody is talking about marriage these days. I guess everybody has always talked about marriage, but I’m only just tuning in (what can I say? I’m now “of age”J ).
For Sarah, there are certain topics in marriage that she finds unfair: joint accounts, housework division, who takes care of the children, etc. Everyone else, though, seems to be okay with these issues, so I’m curious about how her friends and roommates (as well as their friends) will take this oddness of hers... and remember: it’s marriage we’re talking about here!

Sarah’s room was very full and noisy one Wednesday morning. An ‘interesting’ kind of noise, though. (Not the kind that irritated because you were desperately trying to read, sleep or meditate on the Word). Everyone was just lively. Yemisi, one of Sarah’s nine roommates, (you can read it again; bolder this time: NINE) was particularly excited. She had just been given a souvenir from one of her classmate’s weddings, and was enthusiastically narrating the wedding’s sights and sounds.

“And because we were serving the people, we weren’t able to get our souvenirs. We told her husband, sha.”

“But we didn’t expect to be given anything again,” her friend Gladys finished, equally bright-eyed. She had also gotten a souvenir.

“Ba?! Then this morning, Elizabeth came in with these tek cups!” Yemisi said, displaying the pretty cups proudly.

“And they’re expensive too,” Gladys declared. “One two each!”
The roommates and friends were impressed and said so.

“Well, that’s why they say weddings are expensive,” Sarah said indifferently as she ate Indomie out of the pot.

“Shey?!” There was more talk about the wedding, but Sarah tuned out. So romantic, so beautiful, so… ihhh! What’s all the hype about marriage, anyway? Before you know it, the man –
“I wonder what kind of dreams people have that make them want to eat Indomie so early in the morning,” That was Yetty. She had just come in with Larai, and they were giggling seriously.

“That’s very funny,” Sarah grumbled.

“What’s wrong, the Indomie got cold too fast?” Larai asked, half-joking.
“I don’t get why people are so crazy about marriage!” She blurted out. (Incidentally, she had just finished eating, so she threw the pot down drama-queen like).

“Na wa O, thass serious my dear,” one of the roommates, Ezinne, said. The rest of them paused, waiting.
Thinking fast, Sarah plodded on.
“I’m not looking for someone that’ll agree with me even if I’m talking trash, and I know that you girls” - she motioned to the room-full of girls – “will help me out.”

Touched, most of the girls gave a chorus of ‘what’s the matter’?s Yetty and Larai sat down beside her, ears open.
“It’s this thing about being female! It’s so terrible, especially when you’re a married female… ok, that’s a wrong way to start… is it just me or… oh!

“You’re wondering why we are so happy about marriage even when we’ve heard terrible stories,” Gladys helped.

“Yes! And I myself have observed something about married women that I find disturbing on a good day, and very annoying on a lousy, I’m-so-irritated-with-everything day.

This made the girls chuckle briefly.

“It’s like once you’re labeled as a man, you have the right to be demanding, inconsiderate, insensitive, in-… in- everything! I’m sure you get what I’m saying.” She glanced about the entire room. They were all in agreement, so she continued.

“Here are a few things men get away with,” using her fingers to count, “one: my mum tells me, ‘my dear girl, don’t be in a hurry to get annoyed. When your husband finds out that you easily get annoyed, he will frustrate you! Sit down, let me tell you what my mother told me. She said that a man (your husband in particular,) will call you all manner of things that you aren’t- he will call you karuwa, prostitute, and a fool, and what do you do? If you blow up, he may blow you. Be quiet; rub it on your arm and move on. It’s us women that keep the marriage going’
Haba! As if to say women are BDIs!”

“Beady eyes?” Yemisi asked, confused.

“No, B – D – I: Brain-Dead Idiot. You know, brain-dead…”

“Ok. But these your insults aren’t easy O!”

“But Sarah, see -”
“Tolu please let her finish,” Ezinne interrupted.

“Two: Let’s say your husband is the type that very rarely eats supper, but one day, he decides that he’s hungry. Of course he wasn’t included in the meal, and then he proceeds to shout on you for not preparing his supper. You then say ‘Sorry, but you know you hardly eat supper,’ Ho! That just makes the man shout, ‘and so what?!’

And that reminds me, when your mums are complaining about headaches or tummy aches or whatever, do their husbands say anything? Yes they do. They say, ‘It’s ok. Hurry up and give me food. I’m hungry.’ Which brings me to three -”

By this time the girls could not control themselves. They had been trying hard to contain their laughter, because they sensed that Sarah was being really serious. They simply couldn’t hold it in any more.

“ –three,” she continued when they had managed to stop laughing, “after treating you like trash, he wants to get physical with you, so he becomes all nice and spice… and then treats you like trash after… or maybe even -
“- hey, keep it clean! If you have a mind like mine, you won’t be happy with yourself two days later!” Ezinne cautioned.
The girls were like, ‘eh?’ but she pointedly ignored them.
“As you were saying, my dear,” she said.

“Ok, four: older women tell us to make sure we buy property… like land, before we get married. That once we get married, sorry!”

“It’s that what happened to your mum?” someone Sarah wasn’t at all fond of teased.
“No, but it could happen to you,” she replied evenly.
“See eh, there’s a lot more, but I think you’ve gotten the picture.”

They nodded soberly.

“So why are you guys so crazy about marriage when you know all this?!” she asked, incredulous.

“But Sarah, marriage is not by force, shey you know?” said Ezinne.
She sighed before responding, “I know…” She had a faraway look just then.

Larai, who had been silent all through, finally said, “You look down girls who are eager to get married. You think they are chicken brains, as Stanley once stated smugly. But deep down, you also want to get married, and you wonder why you want to get married – knowing all that you know.”
“Chei! Sarah, only you?!” Gladys joked.
“I told you my friend reminds me of the Holy Spirit, “Sarah replied calmly. “She, like Him, tells it like it is.” She idly picked up her dirty pot and studied it.
“It’s true… Larai is right. And I like the gentle way she said it.” Ezinne said, studying Larai.
“Please, I prefer ‘tender’ to ‘gentle’”

It was Yetty that said next, “Girls, I think the hot, big, necessary question now is not ‘what, why or who needs this rubbish?’ Sarah, we’ve established that you’d rather not be single, so the question is, ‘how am I going to prevent such things from happening to me?’

“Yes!” they all agreed enthusiastically.

“Let us all establish that we do not want to get cynical about this marriage issue. God designs great things - He made clothes that lasted 40 years -”

“-what’s the secret, Victoria? That’s right, you wouldn’t know,” Larai joked, glancing at Sarah, hoping to see her smile. She had dropped the pot and was staring at the floor.

“You showed me a passage in Exodus where He created a spicy, exciting fragrance; oil-based too. He created you. He also created marriage, so it’s great shebi?” Yetty continued.
“And of course we all know that it’s not what it was meant to be, but just as God rescued us from our death sentence, He can rescue us from trash.”

“So let us kill BabyCynic! Die! Now-now!” Sarah joked, still staring at the floor.

“I want to get married, because I have seen the good sides of it. A man in the hand is worth two in the bush. Seriously though, the security, the companionship…”

“Thass’ true talk, Yetty!” Larai and the others enthused.

“My mother made me realize that what I start early in the marriage should be what I can finish- if I serve him breakfast in bed at the start I had better be able to continue, if I permit him to punch me every now and then, ridicule me once a week, bring his extended family over for long stretches at the start, I should get used to it,” Sarah added, smiling prettily. Her head was finally up.

“And Sarah, prefer to think positive thoughts generally. It’s not something that comes easily to me, but I like to try at least. Thinking angry, resentful thoughts only make me bitter,” Ezinne said.

“Angry, hateful thoughts also drive me toward sin. For example, I once I start to say to myself, ‘Since even ‘holy’women are being dealt with in this marriage game, I’d rather kangare, that is, start sleeping around,’ a messed-up me emerges. Just keep killing BabyCynic with God’s help.”

“To add to what Larai said, another thing that helps is dating with your eyes wide open,” Gladys added.

“Mm…” they all agreed, thoughtful.

Sarah, saturated and mostly satisfied, stood up. She assumed a pious posture as she said mock-seriously,

“Well I’m grateful, girls, for everything. For our closing hymn we shall sing Years I Spent in Vanity and Pride, or Gettin’ Back on My Feet Again* by Atomic Kitten if you prefer. Its contents are gospel and inspiring, trust me!” She finished, dodging pillows efficiently.

“Don’t forget that we ladies have our own faults too! Talking too much-”

As her roommates and friends kept talking and laughing, she realized that she really felt good. I like my roommates, she decided. Not all the time, but I like them…and I am sorry for assuming that I’m better than others when I’m not…and I commit my future husband - ha ha! Come on, let me get serious…Em… ok, I pray we understand each other, respect each other…

* The actual track name is Everything Goes Around, Track 6 of their Ladies’ Night cd.