By Amarachi Okpunobi
I was in the market few days ago to pick some food stuffs. The market was filled to the brim with people. I tried to squeeze my little self in between them to find my way out yet I kept jamming people, men and women one after another. I wouldn’t dare keep a straight face, I wore my pretence garment filled with smiles all along so I don’t get pissed off. Who knows, what if I had bombed into an angry soul that will design my face beyond recognition if I don’t apologise or even try to justify myself.
I was in that part of the market where vegetables were being sold, I was pricing utazi three bundles for hundred Naira when my gaze shifted to a lady or should I just call her a little girl because she looked like one. There, sat a dirty little girl breastfeeding a baby and at the other hand had two kids pestering with the normal rhyme of little children “mummy, aguu, na agu m”. I kept my gaze at her as she ignored them, looked away while her baby sucked. The baby she was feeding according to my assessment looked malnourished and unkempt but yet beautiful just like the mother. I quit my negotiation and paid hundred Naira to the trader, then went under a shade and watched the little mother with keen interest while she breast fed and at the same time she called customers to buy from her. At that moment, I wished I had bought the utazi from her, at least contribute my little quota in making her goods to finish on time. Maybe she will have time to go home and take care of the kids.
As I stood under the shade, several questions puzzled my mind, yet the answers weren’t forth coming. I was about going when an aged woman came by and asked her of her husband and probably the father of her kids. I was lost in total wonder. How old was this girl when she got married? How old is her unknown husband and her kids too? Did she just got married because she wanted to or was it a forced marriage? Or maybe what we term out of circumstance? Whatever the circumstance was, I couldn’t wrap it around my head. I wanted to go ask some questions but my legs couldn’t carry me to her shop. Thanks goodness, I was already done with what was on my to-do-list. That ended my shopping in the market for that day and I went home pondering sadly over what the young mother looked like when I saw her.
Several times I have seen young girls on the roads begging for alms while backing a baby, most times, twins. In the part of the country where I leave, it is a norm for a young promising girl to quit her education at secondary level for marriage or for pregnancy. It is to them wisdom to be pregnant as a teenager and deliver a baby out of wedlock. It is also pride for them to marry without at least having their O’level Certificate.
Now my message….
For as much as I have read and known, marriage is a life time commitment. Even the scripture confirms it. When we walked down the aisle, we take our vows and we dance with smiles to and for the audience. We make merry and for the first day, live like each day should be our wedding celebration. When it’s time to cut the cake, we call the baker to explain the colours and the ingredients in the cake. Like a nursery rhyme, the baker will gladly say that white means purity, sugar means sweetness, the rough edges of the cake means that marriage is not all sweet and what have you. We applaud them. The couple place their hands over each other as they cut the cake and funny still we call observers to look at the couple and tell us what they see as they cut the cake. The observers, to sound wonderful on the microphone will also air what they think the marriage is and what it is going to be for the couple. All these anyway is if you are opportune to have a wedding.
What of those we hear that they are forced into marriage. What of those who are betrothed to men who they do not love and do not wish to live with. What of those who live in hell on earth because of the bondage of marriage.
The truth is anything can make a man or a woman go into marriage. But whatever it is, let it be worthwhile.
Are you ready to give up on you dreams if it has to be the consequence? Are you ready to take the responsibility of being a mother or a father?
Before you assume that post of Mr/Mrs, be ready to work. If you don’t have anything doing, buy my advice, don’t go into it. If you don’t have any source of income, run for your dear life. Gone are the days we believe that only the man will provide for the family. Men are no tree producing money, Women have to work too. It is not for one person to do.
If you are not ready to get into the commitment called marriage, please don’t go into it. If you are not ready to take care of a child, please don’t bring one into the world to suffer. It is enough that you are suffering already, adding another person to yourself is inhuman.
Social media have really led us into believing what marriage is and is not. Pictures of couples in a hotel does not mean that their marriage is moving as smooth as you see it. A lot of things are masked on social media , don’t be carried away. As you are seeing the good and wonderful couples living their lives on social media, also check for those who are killed by their spouses. Those who abandon their families out of frustration. Those who dump their babies on the road side because they fear so much of how to take care of them. Those whose children are kidnapped partly because they live them in the wrong hands for street hustling.
Your pears are getting married, that doesn’t mean, you should. It’s festive period and I bet you, a lot of your friends are going to woo you with wedding invitation cards. Hey! Don’t fall for it. You are still alive and it is not the end of the world. You didn’t get married in year 2020, doesn’t mean you won’t ever get married again.
As you are making your new year resolutions, and marriage and parenthood are on the list, don’t wait for 2021 or when you find the right man before you prepare. Start now to prepare for it.
Life is like a wheel, it keeps rolling. When it comes to your side, you pick it up and take care of it the way you can. Be happy and live your life. Enjoy the ride while you keep paddling. Make the most out of life. If you are to choose a life partner, choose wisely and at most, prepare for it. Marriage and parenthood is no child’s play. You have to brace up and live up to it.
If you have read this piece this far, please preach the message. It is a bold step into curbing the ugly news of bitter marriages and poor child upbringing in the subsequent years.
Happy New year!
The African Marriage
It was ringing in the air
It spoke out to all of us; it spoke out to me most
It was the story of the white man that sought to marry a black woman
Bekee Bekee, the bride’s entourage and women yelled for me
It was in the night and I could hear beautiful music outside the hut where I stayed
Waiting earnestly for the bride to dance out at the gyration of the evening sky
That was the way it was done in Africa
I remember the day of the “Iku Aka”, as they called it
Kneeling down, I presented the bride price to Ifeoma’s father
And took full responsibility of Ifeoma’s care and the wedding
It was different everywhere else I have been to
In India, the bride’s family paid the bride price while in Korea the bride handles the engagement party
No, Africa was one of a kind
They insisted that I have the ceremony here instead of outside as I initially intended
But I did it all for Ifeoma
She was beautiful with smoothly and wonderfully curved stature
Despite her accent, the English she spoke were like wine to the empty cups of my soul
Her smiles made me shaky and sent my heart throbbing
Bekee, the women interrupted again
That was what they called me ever since I set my foot on their land
It was time for the wedding; I observed the night lit by burning sticks serving as lamps
I heaved a sigh, very uneasy within, not knowing what to expect
I bowed my head, pushing aside the curtains that served as doors, as I came out to the open
And through the louder pleasant music and the brighter burning sticks
Stood Ifeoma, more beautiful than ever with those alluring figures, in the midst of that evening gyration
by Ivan Chizurum Ezeigbo